Kim, left, with another counter-protester displaying a hope and love-filled sign.

Kim, left, with another counter-protester displaying a hope and love-filled sign.

Yesterday, on September 9th, Pride Foundation’s newest staff member, Kim Leighton—along with scores of other community members—attended a counter-protest of the Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) in Bozeman, Montana. The WBC picketed Montana State University (MSU) from 2:30 PM to 3:00 and then picketed Bozeman High School from 3:15 to 3:45 PM.

The Westboro Baptist Church came out to protest local policies that have recently been passed by MSU and Bozeman High School to protect LGBTQ students from bullying and discrimination on campus.

ACLU of Montana, Montana Human Rights Network, Fair is Fair Montana, Forward Montana, Montana Organizing Project, and the Associated Students of Montana State University connected with the local faith community, MSU student groups, business leaders, and concerned citizens to rally our friends in support of fairness and justice.

The Patriot Guard Riders (PGR) also showed up and formed a barrier with their motorcycles and flags, ensuring a peaceful protest. The Patriot Guard is a national group of motorcycle enthusiasts who originally came together to oppose the Westboro Baptist Church’s protests of the funerals of fallen U.S. military personnel. They are dedicated to supporting veterans and their families, and shielding family and friends from interruptions created by any protestor or group of protestors.

From the field, Kim reports that it was a successful counter-protest, “We estimate that there were close to 1,000 people that came out in support of dignity, love, and equality for all.  We’re not sure how many folks from Westboro Baptist Church came, but we know that our message was heard and embraced by the crowd that gathered.  Our community, once again, showed that love and education will prevail.

Christina Rocks is Pride Foundation’s Community Giving Manager. Email Christina.

Posted In: Blog, Connecting Leaders, Blog, Montana