Words: Will Stroude
Coming out can be one of the most nerve-wracking things any LGBT person can do, so you can imagine the courage it took one teenage pupil to tell his school's entire student body he was gay during assembly.
Finnn Stannard, a student at St Ignatius' College in Sydney, Australia, took the plunge with a moving speech in which he opened up to 1500 of his teachers and classmates about his struggle to come to terms with his sexuality.
In a video shared by SBS News, Finn tells his a room packed full with his peers: "I’ve been working towards this speech for four years. In those four years, I have come to understand who I am and how to not be sorry for being myself."
He then tells them he's gay.
“Being different, whether it’s being gay or being part of another minority group, can be challenging but it does not have to be scary and isolating,” Finn says.
This is the moment a gay student at one of Sydney’s most elite Catholic schools - that boasts former prime minister Tony Abbott and Barnaby Joyce among its alumni - stood up in a packed assembly hall of more than 1,500 students and came out pic.twitter.com/NyZxffFBmr— SBS News (@SBSNews) November 26, 2018
“Every single one of you can help, in your own way, by accepting others for exactly who they are.”
The power of Finn's words is plain to see when the entire student body gets on their feet to give him a rousing standing ovation at the end of the speech.
Speaking to SBS News, Finn, who says he has since taken his boyfriend to the school formal, expressed his hope of inspiring other students feeling lonely or isolated.
“I think that’s really the biggest reason I made sure I got up onto that stage and gave the speech,” he said.
“I don’t think anybody should have to go through the feeling of loss that I felt like I’d gone through.”
Finn’s mother Megan Stannard said that she'd been touched by the overwhelmingly positive reaction to her son's announcement.
“The fact that Finn was supported, the fact that his message was heard - I was in tears,” she said. “I was just so proud of him.”
St Ignatius' head teacher Paul Hines described Finn's speech as a “watershed” moment for the school, which boasts ex-Australian prime minister Tony Abbott as a former pupil.
“I'm not sure anyone chooses their sexuality, that's who they are and therefore we need to be open to that and to accept it and to make sure we live in communities of inclusion - and with that will come diversity,” Dr Hines said.
“Certainly that's the case in the world beyond so in my view that should be the case in schools.”
You can watch Finn's speech in full over at SBS News.