Students counter Westboro protest

Police lined the street in front of Oak Hills High School Oct. 25, enforcing the First Amendment’s rights of free speech and to peaceably assemble.

Westboro Baptist Church, famous for picketing soldiers’ funerals, protested the school’s right to have a gay-straight alliance group available to students.

“Oak Hills High School, a typical doomed American high school, is just another place where the children of this nation are taught that God is a liar and that his commandments are just suggestions,” reads the church’s official website.

Some Northern Kentucky University students gathered on Ebenezer Road to partake in the event. NKU freshman Grace Freihofer was one of those students.

“I went to Oak Hills for high school, and I totally disagree with the protest,” Freihofer said. “The students and the community came together against such hateful things.”

Westboro Baptist Church picket signs read, “Soldiers die 4 fag marriage. Thank God for dead soldiers.”
Counter-protesters gathered on the opposite side of the street, holding signs that portray their message: people shouldn’t be judged based upon their sexual orientation.

About 100 counter-protesters outnumbered the church’s four picketers. The picketers chanted “God hates fags” as counter-protesters refuted Westboro’s arguments with cursing and songs.
Emotions were high as people expressed their beliefs.

“I didn’t think the protest was going to be this big,” said NKU freshman Niki Handlon.
Although all the picketers have the right to free speech, some didn’t agree with Westboro’s message.
Oetjen got word of the protest through Facebook. “They have no right to tell us who can defend our country and who can’t,” said Bo Oetjen, a public relations senior at NKU.

Numerous strangers gathered for their belief that all are created equal, regardless of sexual orientation. The overall atmosphere was evident. As Westboro left the scene, counter-protesters held their ground, singing, “Na na na na, na na na na, hey hey hey, goodbye.”