Diversity in the classroom

Quest receives a mention in the current edition of The Tablet (14 September 2019 – Celebrating diversity in the classroom). The article written by Sidonie Bertrand-Shelton, head of education programmes at Stonewall, discusses the importance of teaching love, respect and acceptance in Catholic schools, and in all faith schools.

Sidonie writes that it is important that young people have the opportunity to hear from diverse lesbian, gay, bi and trans role models. For this purpose Stonewall established School Role Models to visit faith schools and speak about their experience of growing up in a faith community.

One of these role models is Ruby Almeida, who until recently was Chair of Quest. Ruby says of her experience: “Some of the schools I have visited are Stonewall Champions, which means that they have excellent LGBT initiatives and schemes in place that welcome diversity throughout the year”. She adds, “Some schools have an LGBT students’ union where students are supported with their own specific issues to do with coming out as gay or as a trans person. Working with the student and parents during this period can be complex for the school, but with support and understanding, many students are able to have a fulfilled and meaningful student experience without their academic achievements suffering.”

Ruby also mentions that Quest is “a participant in Stonewall’s Faith Partnership whereby we work with the SLTs (Senior Leadership Teams) in Catholic schools to help teachers tackle anti-LGBT abuse effectively and to create learning environments where every child can be accepted without exception. Through dialogue filled with the love and compassion that Christ taught, and which is very much a part of our Catholic faith, Catholics schools can have a greater grounded understanding of young LGBT people’s hopes and achievements through our engagement with them.”

Stonewall’s resource, An Introduction to Supporting LGBT Young People-A Guide for Schools, contains an example of how a Catholic school used its values to help one of their students as they were transitioning: “When a parent contacted us to say their child wanted to transition after the Easter Holidays, the senior leadership team was clear on the school’s duty to support them. Initial support involved weekly meetings with the student and parents to map out practical considerations for the transition and enable the young person’s voice to be heard.”