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For the first time in years, the LDS Church is allowing all reporters — including females — into the all-male priesthood session of the faith's General Conference.

With rare exceptions through past decades, only male reporters were allowed to cover that priesthood meeting. Eventually, even male reporters were not given media access, though they could go in and watch the proceedings without raising suspicions because they were men.

The current move to open all sessions of the 185th Annual LDS General Conference — which gets underway Saturday with the women's meeting — was announced this week in an email to media outlets from Dale Jones, director of media relations for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

"We have also made some changes to media access for conference. Beginning on Saturday, March 28th, the media room in the conference center will be available for professional, credentialed journalists during all sessions of Conference, including the General Women's Session," Jones wrote in the email. "The media room will also be available during the [April 4] Priesthood Session on the following Saturday evening."

There was no mention of the past prohibitions on female reporters.

It is a reversal of the church's stance taken in October, when the Utah-based faith barred all media from the women's meeting.

At that time, an LDS Church spokeswoman explained that closing the women's event to in-person reporters — while handing out copies of the speeches earlier and streaming the session live online — was meant to mirror the church's handling of the all-male general priesthood meeting.

"Our approach is the same for both the general women's meeting," she said then, "and the priesthood session."

Peggy Fletcher Stack