Community responds to planned Westboro Baptist Church protests - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Community responds to planned Westboro Baptist Church protests

(Photo: Matt Kryger/IndyStar) (Photo: Matt Kryger/IndyStar)
CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) -

A controversial church is planning to come to the Tri-State in September, and local schools, organizations and parents are already preparing for the protests.

Press releases on the Westboro Baptist Church's website indicate that members of the church will be protesting at three locations in Cincinnati on September 6th: Oak Hills High School, the University of Cincinnati and the Duke Energy Convention Center.

The releases indicate that the church is specifically protesting Oak Hill's Gay Straight Alliance, UC's LGBTQ Center and the National Baptist Convention that will be held at the convention center.

"I don't understand how somebody could be so close minded into treating people like that," Lyla Abel, a senior at Oak Hills High School and a member of the schools' Gay Straight Alliance, said.

Westboro's schedule states they will be picketing at Oak Hills first.

"Safety is my biggest concern but above that it's the children's emotional state," Audrey Patten, a parent, said. "What kind of people, group are you to protest children at school where they're supposed to be learning."

In response, the school district is dismissing the high school students early the day of the protests.

However, some of the students are not planning to go straight home. They said they want to stick around to join a counter-protest. Hundreds of people from a handful of local organizations are expected to show up at each of the Westboro protest locations.

"The fact that it's students and the young makes it even more important that we show up and support not only the school but the community as whole that it's not welcome here," Jim Helton, who is helping organizing the counter-protests and is with Tri-State Freethinkers, said.

The goal of the counter-protests, according to organizers, is to spread a message of love and equality.

"We need to stand together in situations like that and show that we're going to stand for what we believe in," Abel said.

Others feel the best way to fight back against Westboro is by doing nothing at all.

"To sit and prove my point to a bunch of deaf ears and hate-filled hearts, there's no point," Patten said.

One Oak Hills parent told FOX19 NOW off camera that she is still considering keeping her kids home that day to keep them safe.

Green Township Police have said they're planning accordingly to make sure the protests are peaceful.

To learn more about the counter-protests, visit the Facebook event page.

You can read Westboro Baptist's Church's press releases regarding their protests on the church's website.

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