Students rally around gay classmate targeted by Westboro Baptist Church
A group of students has a plan to counter-protest when the Westboro Baptist Church targets a gay classmate.
The students will rally around Jake Bain, who became the first athlete to come out as gay back in January.
Bain came out publicly in an interview back in January, but actually told his coach and teammates some time ago.
He said not coming out had affected his abilities as he was concentrating on hiding.
His coming out will be protested by the Westboro Baptist Church, according to the school, starting Monday morning.
The church often pickets LGBT-friendly events and other causes it claims are sinful.
Members will gather on Monday morning, but will not be alone if the students put their plan into action.
The school’s head Andy Abbott told KSDK: “I think this is one thing that everyone is unanimous about, this is a group of people that don’t really deserve our attention.”
Adding: “When an international hate group is coming to protest at your school, you’re probably doing something right.”
The church began targeting Bain, a student at John Burroughs School, after he shared moving accounts of wanting to come out with his classmates starting last year.
He later gave interviews and spoke publicly about being the first out gay member of his school’s football team.
“For the first time in my life I could finally be true to myself — I owed it to myself to be me,” Jake said at the time.
“I also felt like I owed it to everyone out there who was in the same position — and felt lost and alone like I did.”
Abbott adds that the students had “decided, we don’t want to interact with these people,”
As well as counter-protesting, the students will also run an assembly where people can share messages of support and inclusion.
“It’s going to be a time to share your art your literature, your thoughts your feelings and I hope it will be a really uplifting morning.”
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The Missouri school will respond to the protest by the WBC by the peaceful protest and the assembly.
Abbott adds that he is unhappy that the WBC is coming to his town, but that he was proud of the public response to the public’s response.
“It has felt really good,” says Abbott.
According to the Westboro Baptist Church, the protest will begin at 7:45 and go on to 8:15 on Monday morning.
Parents wishing to avoid the protests have been told to use an alternative route or arrive later.