The Westboro Baptist Church Protested A Gay Teen, But His Town Stood By Him

“Just to know that I have all that love and support from so many people is just really cool.”

When John Burroughs High School football star Jake Bain came out during a school assembly, he was greeted with the love and respect of his friends, family, teammates and the school's faculty. The anti-LGBT Westboro Baptist Church staged a protest of the Ladue, Mo., preparatory school on March 12, but members of his community fought back against the hate by rallying in support of the high school senior.

Westboro Baptist Church, which the Southern Poverty Law Center classifies as a hate group, announced the protest late last month in a press release in which they used gay slurs to describe the student. They set the time for their protest from 7:45 a.m. to 8:15 a.m. that morning. In response to this, the students and faculty of John Burroughs planned a 40-minute "display of support."

"In our society, there is always room for respectful differences of opinion. But WBC is nothing more than a hate group," the school's headmaster Andy Abbott said in a letter. "It maintains that God is punishing America because of its tolerance of the LGBTQ+ community ... their modus operandi is to carry inflammatory signs to incite reactions from those they picket. What we will remember is that our students responded with unity and care and courage."

That they did. Supporters of Bain showed up with signs and rainbow flags and played music to drown out the Westboro protesters, according to St. Louis news affiliate Fox 2 Now. Instead of directly engaging in a direct counter-protest, they created an "inclusive community" to show love and support to the football star.

"We've had a lot of videos inside from alumni that have showed their support, and we've had our own little Pride Parade inside," said Bain.

The number of Bain's supporters eclipsed that of the Westboro protesters, a fact that wasn't lost on Bain, who expressed his gratitude to Fox 2 Now.

"The fact that there's people that I've never even met or made connections with that are willing to come out here in the cold and show their support for me and my whole community is just really special," the teen told the outlet.

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