On November 17, 2016, Becky Duddy-Burke and Mary Beth Foley represented Dignity/Boston at a panel discussion on the campus of Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts. The event was hosted by the university’s Newman Association and the theme was understanding the experiences of LGBTQI Catholics. Emilee Cocuzzo, one of the Newman Association student leaders, asked Becky and Mary Beth a variety of questions concerning their own faith experiences, coming out, and their thoughts about the Catholic Church’s views and practices regarding LGBTQI individuals. The questions offered opportunities to share information about the advocacy work of Dignity/Boston and DignityUSA with the audience that consisted of approximately 15 youth who identified as LGBTQI and allies. Students discussed a recent hate crime on campus in which hurtful words were written on a bathroom stall after the presidential election.
Becky and Mary Beth offered their support and suggestions for how the students could continue to work towards a safe and accepting campus for all. The students’ advisor, Ed Carr, raised a thoughtful question about how “straight Catholic allies” could work toward a more inclusive Church which led to a discussion about Catholic reform groups and coalitions. At the conclusion of the event, students approached Becky and Mary Beth with individual comments and questions, leaving all present with feelings of hope that the stories of Dignity/Boston members as LGBTQI Catholics could be shared at future events on campus, and that this generation of students is committed to, and ready to fight for, social justice in their communities.