Superintendent: Planned Anti-Gay Protest 'Hateful, Offensive'

"We find hateful speech directed at any students or other community members to be offensive and potentially dangerous," says Santa Monica-Malibu Unified Superintendent Sandra Lyon.

Schools superintendent Sandra Lyon is calling for peaceful counter-protests to the planned anti-gay picket at Santa Monica High School.

In a letter denouncing the planned Westboro Baptist Church picket as "hateful" and "potentially dangerous," Lyon urged anyone participating in a counter-protest to do so peacefully and respectfully.

"While we recognize that this is an excellent real life lesson about the First Amendment, we also know that such an assembly can put students and other citizens at risk," the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District superintendent wrote.

The controversial Westboro group is scheduled to picket at the high school 7 a.m. Monday, according to its website.

The site says it wants to tell students "the Gospel truth," that "every adult in their lives has taught them that they can disobey God... that it is OK to be gay." Westboro says it opposes "the homosexual lifestyle of soul-damning, nation-destroying filth."

Lyon said the district finds "hateful speech directed at any students or other community members to be offensive and potentially dangerous."

Westboro regularly plans protests, but often fails to show up. When the demonstrations are held, they typically draw counter-protests.

The superintendent said the district is working with the high school and Santa Monica Police to patrol the neighborhood and campus gates to keep students safe. "Security will be tight that morning, but we do not expect any problems," she wrote in the letter.

The school's Gay-Straight Alliance says it's planning a "peaceful" and "positive" fundraiser with music and "pride" that morning but won't respond to Westboro. "We are here for US, not them," its student leadership wrote on the club's Facebook page.

The district's Board of Education was scheduled to review Lyon's letter at its meeting Thursday night.

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Val Streit February 22, 2013 at 05:51 PM
GAY-STRAIGHT ALLIANCE NETWORK's Fundraiser: Raise Money for GSA Network in WBC's Name! http://www.crowdrise.com/SamohiGSA
Bruce Campbell February 22, 2013 at 06:49 PM
If the Samohi Gay - Straight Alliance has attracted attention from those hateful fools at Westboro Baptist Church, they must be doing something right!
Brenda Barnes February 23, 2013 at 01:57 AM
Westboro still has its tax deduction as a church. Churches--unlike other non-profits--don't have to pay even property taxes.
Arthur Christopher Schaper February 25, 2013 at 09:51 PM
It is wrong to condemn all churches because of the "hate speech" of one group. It is also wrong to condemn God, the Bible, and a proper discussion about homosexuality because of the poor and uncivil affront of one group.
Val Streit February 26, 2013 at 03:53 PM
It is true that not all churches use hate speech. I don't consider WBC a church because their agenda is more like an activist group. I don't think anyone here is condemning God or the Bible. I am curious however as to where "a proper discussion about homosexuality" fits in here.


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