Our friends at the Westboro Baptist Church have scheduled a protest at a school in Missouri. In response, the school's Gay-Straight Alliance will be protesting right back-- and selling shirts that read "Love Conquers Hate." The profits from the shirts will benefit the school's Gay-Straight Alliance and Growing American Youth programs.
There are also certain donors that will be giving the school's GSA money for every minute that the WBC is protesting at the school. So, by all means, Westboro, make yourselves comfortable. You'll be welcome guests.
As a member of the QUILTBAG community, myself, I was insanely happy upon hearing the news, which I first learned by following It's OK to be Takei's page on Facebook. I went to a small school in Austin, Indiana, and I don't think we even had a GSA, much less any official support from teachers. (Not that the teachers were especially homophobic-- in fact, a lot of the teachers were very open-minded for such a small town, but there was never anything official.)
I was, in fact, so giddy about this that I sent a repetitive, fangirl-squealing message to the communications people for the school:
I just read about the WBC protest and the GSA protest to counter it and I simply had
to write to someone involved with the school to say how proud I am. I don't even live in MO-- I'm in KY-- but I have so many LGBTQ friends and family members who have dealt with discrimination in so many areas of their lives, and it makes me unbearably proud to know that there's a school standing up for their LGBTQ students.
I'm positive that every measure will be taken to protect the students from any harm, and I'm incredibly happy that the students are being given this chance to get involved in such an important movement. Knowing that their authority figures stand with them on this issue will make it so much easier for the kids to love and accept themselves for who and what they are. People have a hard enough time loving and accepting themselves without the pressures of being gay. Please make sure that the staff continues to stand with the students and supports their right to be themselves.
I know that this is a controversial issue and that plenty of people might be upset about it, but the bottom line is that you're supporting and teaching your kids to think and act for themselves. You're giving them an outlet for healthy involvement in the political process. And, though I've already said this, it needs restating: More than anything, you are standing with your students and taking care of them. Please continue to do that, no matter what's happening and no matter what anyone else says.
Thank you so much for doing this.
- Valerie Short
If you would like to say anything to the school about this incredible solidarity with its students, you can find the email addresses of the communications staff here.