Updated: 4 days ago
On Tuesday, July 26, it was brought to public attention that St. Thomas More High School (STM) has included the Catholic Diocese of Lafayette, Louisiana's "Sexual Identity Policy" in the forefront of its 2022-2023 handbook.
The policy, written as a "spiritual mandate," prohibits students' expression of gender or sexuality that is not "God-given" and requires full enforcement by faculty and staff.
As news of this policy spread, a group of more than 100 STM alumni—concerned about the well-researched, irreversible harm that this policy will have on students of the diocese—formed We Demand More.
[We Demand More's] goal is to create an open dialogue with the diocese to amend the policy in respect for the dignity of all LGBTQ+ students.
On Friday, August 5, We Demand More delivered their statement to the doors of STM expressing their demands. You can read the full statement here.
As of now, they have yet to receive a response from the diocese or St. Thomas More Catholic High School. In turn, they are asking for help from supporters to make sure their message is spread far and wide on platforms like Tiktok, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
WDM Member Ellis Clay shares the following in response to what this work means to him:
“We Demand More means to me that there is a physical presence ready to protect queer kids at these Catholic institutions to ensure they have a safe environment when so many of us who’ve walked through those doors never had that chance." - Ellis Clay
As WDM works to compile a document to present to STM with messages from their supporters, they have also turned to crowdfunding and petitioning websites.
Currently, their Change.org petition to protect LGBTQ+ youth in Lafayette, LA has reached roughly 1,600 signatures. But more signatures can help to further their cause while bringing attention to such policies that exist beyond Louisiana alone.
Additionally, they have set up a GoFundMe and created Merch with a fundraising goal of $5,000 that will go towards legal consultations, PR, marketing maintenance, photo/video editing, and future investments at STM for queer students.
Any excess of funds will be donated to the Trevor Project.
On the WDM Instagram page, they have been regularly sharing Impact Stories both from STM alumni and other local queer students in the Louisiana area.
In fact, anyone who has a story is welcome to share theirs. With prompts like "What was your experience like in high school?" to "What would you say to your younger self?" WDM has taken on a life of its own, bringing awareness to the kind of abuse and harassment that queer and trans students face regularly in and outside of school.
As WDM Member Lincoln Duhon shares:
"We Demand More means standing up for LGBTQIA+ youth as an adult now, when the adults never did for me or others then." - Lincoln Duhon
WDM Member Sarah Trotter furthers this sentiment, finding that the act of sharing one's story itself can be healing:
"We Demand More’s mere existence is healing parts of myself I thought were fine. The community & friendships we have formed are giving me strength and power I never knew I could tap into." - Sarah Trotter
While WDM has prompted personal stories of adversity to come out from the woodwork, WDM's demands remain specific. With a clear goal of creating a dialogue with both STM and the Diocese, they intend to advocate against the systemic culture that allowed this policy to be created in the first place.
Their demands for STM are listed on their website and are reflected below:
Repeal the Sexual Identity Policy
Join in initiating dialogue with the Diocese
Acknowledge students by their chosen name or last name
Respect requests to use pronouns that align with the student's gender identity
Allow all students to have an option to wear pants on mass days, regardless of gender expression
Provide access to a gender-neutral or single-stall bathroom
Reform the culture of the campus to be one of inclusion and dignity
Furthermore, their demands for the diocese are as follows:
Repeal the Sexual Identity Policy
Initiate dialogue with WDM
Acknowledge the large body of evidence of the damage the policy will cause
Affirm the existence of transgender and non-binary lives
Reform the culture of the diocese to be one of inclusion and dignity
Embrace all of God's children with tenderness and dignity, including very vulnerable queer students
Their fight to protect queer and trans youth across South Louisiana is only beginning. But with the inception of We Demand More, Member Camille Langlinais shares that such desires for change remain possible:
"To me, WDM is a cultural shift that is much needed in our local area. Our community is about total inclusion, acceptance and love. We are learning from one another and demonstrating to that these things can and will be achieved." - Camille Langlinais
To support We Demand More's goals, you can take the following actions below:
- Sign and share their petition.
- Donate to and share their fundraiser.
- Buy their merch.
- Contribute your own Impact Story.
- Share a brief note on why you stand with WDM (to be shared with STM).
If you are or know an LGBTQ+ Student in need of mental health resources, please visit the following site below:
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