Westboro Baptist Church to protest at two local schools - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Westboro Baptist Church to protest at two local schools

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CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) -

School officials for Oak Hills local school district are encouraging parents and students to diffuse the planned protest by Westboro Baptist Church by not providing a counter-protest.

Todd Yohey, superintendent of the Oak Hills Local School District, released the follow statement Tuesday in an audio message to parents:

"Hello Oak Hills High School parents.  This is Todd Yohey, Superintendent of the Oak Hills Local School District.  By now, I am sure that most of you have heard the news that an independent organization known as the Westboro Baptist Church has advertised on their web site their plans to picket at Oak Hills High School on October 25.  According to the group's web site, they plan to picket outside of our high school from 2:40 - 3:10 p.m. and then leave for another planned picket at Miami University in Oxford.  While we do not know why this group selected Oak Hills High School as a location, we do know that this group has a long history of traveling the country to picket in public places and at military funerals.

I want to assure you that we are taking this picket seriously and developing plans to minimize the group's exposure to students and minimize engagement opportunities between this group and others.  I have already met with school and township officials to begin the planning process.

We need your help in minimizing the disruption to our school day.  I understand that there is a growing sentiment among students and adults in our district that want to confront this group when they are here.  That approach is exactly the reaction that this group hopes to encounter.  This provides them media coverage and, in some cases, results in law suits from which they have collected a lot of money.  Our hope is not to give them the reaction they desire.  Please discuss with your high school students and other adults that we do not want a large crowd in opposition to this group.  We can effectively handle a small group of people from this church.  We cannot handle hundreds of angry people in opposition to their message.  Please help us diffuse this situation to keep our students and others safe.  Thank you."

According to Megan Phelps-Roper, a member of the Westboro Baptist Church, the group is made up of 80 percent family members and 20 percent people outside of her family. Phelps-Roper says the church has 70 members, 40 who are active. She says she has been going on protests with her family since she was five-years-old. They also plan to visit Miami University on Oct. 25.

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