Westboro protests planned in Cincinnati: Oak Hills to dismiss hi - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Westboro protests planned in Cincinnati: Oak Hills to dismiss high school students early

Rachel Hockenbarger from Westboro Baptist Church protests outside Reliant Stadium on Saturday, Aug. 6, 2011, in Houston. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan) Rachel Hockenbarger from Westboro Baptist Church protests outside Reliant Stadium on Saturday, Aug. 6, 2011, in Houston. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)
CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) -

A controversial church is planning to come to the Tri-State this week, and an area high school plans to dismiss high school students early Wednesday as a result.

Press releases on the Westboro Baptist Church's website indicate that members of the church will be protesting at three locations in Cincinnati on Sept. 6:

  • Oak Hills High School
  • the University of Cincinnati and
  • the Duke Energy Convention Center

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

Westboro's schedule states they will be picketing at Oak Hills first. In response, the school district is dismissing the high school students early Wednesday, at 1 p.m.

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 a 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.

Counter-protesters believe there will be hundreds gathering.

"They picked Oak Hills High School because they have a gay-straight alliance. They picked UC because they have transgender friendly policies and my personal favorite, they picked the Baptist National Convention," said Jim Helton, who is an atheist and organizer with the Tri-State Free Thinkers, who are expecting big numbers to show up from all over the area.

Helton said their people are ready, with all kinds of signs and the sheer numbers at all three locations will speak volumes for equality, peace, and love.

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

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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