From a letter delivered to St. Thomas More Catholic High School on August 5, 2022:

We Demand More is an organization of St. Thomas More Catholic High School alumni voicing our deep concern regarding the recent release of the Catholic Diocese of Lafayette, Louisiana’s “Sexual Identity Policy” included in the 2022-2023 handbook.

 

We understand that this policy intends to provide a “safe environment that allows students to prosper academically, physically, and spiritually, consistent with Roman Catholic teachings and principles.” However, we must protest the policy, as it does not serve its intended purpose; instead, it will cause irreversible harm to the students of diocesan schools.

 

We ask that the policy be repealed and that students be allowed to use pronouns, names, uniforms, and facilities according to their gender identity.

 

The organization does not wish to challenge the beliefs of the Roman Catholic Church. We Demand More is not requesting education on LGBTQ+ identities beyond the church’s beliefs, nor do we wish to disrupt or distract the educational environment. Nevertheless, we implore the diocese to revisit the policy with Christlike compassion and love.

 

A policy that condemns, silences, and shames students effectively isolates those that are different. By policing any potential safe, accepting spaces for these students, the policy has one clear message: LGBTQ+ students are not welcome.

 

Each student’s God-given free will should be honored as Christ would honor it. A policy that respects the lived experiences of LGBTQ+ people—a policy centered on including these individuals rather than pushing them away—would allow these students to prosper academically, physically, and spiritually in a manner that prevents unnecessary psychological damage.

 

And that psychological damage is well documented. In their 2022 national survey, the Trevor Project found that “45% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year," while “LGBTQ youth who found their school to be LGBTQ-affirming reported lower rates of attempting suicide.”[1] These issues impact your students’ very lives. We ask that STM, alongside the Catholic Diocese of Lafayette, Louisiana, recognize the increased risk of depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation in LGBTQ+ youth living in an unsupportive community.

 

Policies that allow and encourage peers and mentors to reject and discriminate against these students increase their likelihood of experiencing suicidal ideations and feelings of depression and anxiety. Alternatively, an inclusive policy that respects and acknowledges LGBTQ+ students as they are serves to advance the “safe environment” the current policy claims to promote.

 

Our organization seeks to protect students at the Catholic Diocese of Lafayette’s educational institutions. We call for an open dialogue with the diocese to amend the policy to respect the dignity of all LGTBQ+ Catholics that exist, have existed, and will always exist. The continuation of harmful rhetoric against queer students will alienate vulnerable individuals from the loving embrace of Jesus Christ.

 

God is Father and He does not disown any of his children . . . And ‘the style’ of God is ‘closeness, mercy and tenderness.’ Along this path you will find God.

–Pope Francis[2]

 

[1] The Trevor Project. https://www.thetrevorproject.org/survey-2022/

[2] Pope Francis speaks to LGBT Catholics in New Letter: God “Does Not Disown Any of His Children.” https://www.americamagazine.org/faith/2022/05/09/pope-francis-james-martin-outreach-242952

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