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Church: female missionaries may now wear slacks

The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announces revised dress guidelines for sister missionaries in areas of the world affected by mosquito-borne diseases. ©2016 BY INTELLECTUAL RESERVE, INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

SALT LAKE CITY — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced a revised dress code for missionaries Thursday, meaning that, effective immediately, women who serve as missionaries will have the option to wear slacks.

The new dress standards will apply to all 407 missions around the world.

In a statement, Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and chairman of the Missionary Executive Council, said the change was at least partly motivated by safety concerns.

“Adjustment to the missionary dress and grooming standards have changed over time since the beginning of the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ in 1830 and will continue to do so in the future,” said Elder Uchtdorf. “As we adapt these standards, we always carefully consider the dignity of the missionary calling to represent Jesus Christ, the safety, security, and health of our beloved missionaries, and the cultural sensitivities of the places where they serve.”

Young Women general president Sister Bonnie H. Cordon says it’s an extension of rules that allowed female missionaries in areas where mosquito-borne illnesses are a problem during the wet season. Now, all female missionaries may wear slacks year-round.

“There are a lot of vector-borne diseases because of mosquitoes and ticks and fleas,” said Sister Cordon. “This helps the sisters to prevent any of those bites or at least minimizes them.”

Sister Cordon described the choice to wear slacks as truly up to the discretion of the missionary.

“This is truly optional,” said Sister Cordon. “The sisters can wear dresses, they can wear slacks, whatever will help them in their service as they’re out amongst the people.”

Skirts and dresses will continue to be the rule for temple attendance, Sunday worship services and certain other activities, including baptismal services.

The revised guidelines for dress and grooming can be found online.