The weather in London was horrid all day but the four hour drive to Preston was met with clear, blue skies and sunshine. I was on a Stonewall Schools Role Model visit to Brownedge St. Mary’s School and it was a wonderful and inspiring occasion for so many reasons. I was met at reception by two smart, polite and confident students, Failenn Molloy and Liam Smith, who showed me around their school. Buffet lunch was laid on for us and I learned quickly that both Failenn and Liam were campaigners for social justice. The school is very active in this field with activities in support of refugees, and has close links with Cafod.
I did three talks with Yr.11s, Yr.10 and Yr.7s. Each talk was adapted for the needs of each group. Yr. 11 had an exam coming up and so the focus of my talk was about the perceived challenges that a gay person of faith has to face with dealing the teachings of the Church. After I had done my second talk with Yr. 10, I was informed by Assistant Head Teacher teacher Sarah Goldson that despite the usual reticence displayed by teenagers of that age, they had actually engaged with the content of the talk and had had a very lively and informed discussion in their class. Students eh!
Year 10 were somewhat more disarmed and asked a few pertinent questions such as ‘Would the Church every allow Same Sex marriages?’, ‘Can gay people adopt children?’ and “Have I ever had a boyfriend?’. All fine and good. However, it was the Yr. 7s who blew me away with their level of engagement and their acceptance and understanding of lgbt issues. They were happy, with a show of hands, to tell me that they had family members who were gay, and with another show of hands to tell me that they had friends who were gay. They were also able to tell me that they knew that their friends and family members were happy because they were accepted and loved by other family members and friends. Such is the beauty of innocence and acceptance by young people. Out of the mouths of babes! I can only wish and hope that their lives will always be like that, and that they can hang on to some of that innocence and idealism. Please God.
So, the visit to Preston was a breath of fresh air filled with sunshine and wonder. I thank all the members of staff who made me so welcome and to all the students, especially Failenn and Liam, who were wonderful and inspiring.
Quest have several members signed up to the School Role Models talks. We look forward to hearing about their visits and learning about these wonderful schools and their students
Failenn Malloy and Liam Smith