Cait Marshall and Ellis Clay are long since graduated from St. Thomas More, but they haven’t gone quietly.
After the Catholic school prioritized a policy targeting queer students, they stood up and spoke up with a new collective called We Demand More.
The group has gathered testimony from students going back to 1993, putting face after face on the impact the school’s culture has on marginalized voices like Cait’s and Ellis’s.
The group has emphasized storytelling to highlight queer students’ struggles at STM that they say this policy will exacerbate. We Demand More’s Instagram page attracted a big following quickly, publishing first-person stories that resonated with alumni near and far.
That queer students would suffer wasn’t a surprise, says Ellis. He knew the torment all too well, both from his peers and from his teachers. This was worse.
“I was really shocked that STM would go this far,” says Ellis. “…To be so blatant to this point where they’re going to remove students for being openly queer or transgender just surprised me, especially coming from a standpoint of a Christian lens of being compassionate and loving.”
Earlier this year, as word of the policy circulated, Ellis sent a call to action to a group chat with members of his graduating class: Band with him to voice their concerns.
Since then, the collective has gathered more than 100 testimonies of alumni.
Cait Marshall (they/them) felt the same way. A 2014 grad, Cait knew all too well the kind of environment that had been fostered for queer students: a hostile one.
“If this policy existed when I was at STM, I think I would be dead,” Cait says.
This was a common thread for the group as it grew and grew.
We Demand More hopes to engage the Diocese of Lafayette and STM and change the policy. Along the way, its members have found power in sharing the stories of their fellow students and shining a light on the hardships faced in the school.
“We’re still ready to keep going. We still text every day. I’ve learned we’re a lot more resilient than I thought we ever could be,” Cait says. “There’s a lot more people around Lafayette who support the queer community than I ever thought.”
Celebrate Cait, Ellis and the rest of this year’s honorees Dec. 1 at Moncus Park.
Brach, Carly, and Emile
Myers Family Fund