Shelly's Voice has launched a letter-writing campaign where people in Indianapolis — and all over the world — can write to Catholic leaders to demand acceptance of LGBTQ people.
"We encourage healthy conversation between our group and the Catholic Archdiocese. In fact, the only way we can inspire change is by getting our voices heard by the Catholic leaders," the organization wrote on ShellysVoice.org.
On its website, the organization provides guidelines for those who want to speak out against injustice stemming from the Catholic Church and its leaders. After the form is filled out, Shelly's Voice members will even print out the letters and physically mail them to their subjects.
Dominic Conover, a spokesperson for Shelly's Voice, is among those who have witnessed injustice firsthand. In an oped published this week in The Advocate, the gay teen detailed how his Catholic institution, Roncalli High School in Indianapolis, silenced his voice. As a student, Conover had been advocating on behalf of Shelly Fitzgerald, a guidance counselor who was fired for marrying her wife, and leaders implied his graduation would be put into jeopardy if he continued.
However, after graduating and connecting with the Ariadne Getty Foundation, which "helped me get back on my feet and start advocating for justice," the gay activist has found his voice once again and is using it to demand LGBTQ inclusion.
"The Catholic Church is my church, too," Conover said. "I make up the church. We all make up the church. And I need to be accepted in the place I’ve called home for 17 years."
In the video below, Conover discussed how the firing of his guidance counselor was shocking to him, because it ran counter to the teachings he learned at Roncalli.
"I felt loved there and I was taught to love everybody no matter who they were, what their differences were, or where we stand politically or on the religious spectrum," he said. "When I saw what happened with Shelly, I noticed that what I had been taught for over 12 years was not being put into action at my school. I needed to stand up and I needed to show people that the policy that was being implemented on Shelly was not the doctrine and the teachings I was taught as a Catholic and a student at Roncalli High School."
Conover also has a message for LGBTQ young people: "Before all this happened, I didn’t understand the severity of what discrimination and forced silence had on a high school student. But I had realized now is that it’s prevalent everywhere. What I just want to tell LGBTQ+ youth is, there are people standing up for you all over the world and all over the nation. I’m here for you. Organizations are here for you. And we’re going to create change so that you can be you in your school and you can feel comfortable expressing yourselves."
Watch Conover tell his story below. Demand change through a letter to the Catholic Church at ShellysVoice.org.