Students at Santee High School in Los Angeles brawled with Westboro Baptist protesters who had come to stand across the street and harass the school over its decision to implement gender-neutral bathrooms for transgender students, ABC 7 reports:
The protesters were across the street from the school carrying signs and a bullhorn, authorities stated. When classes were dismissed, police said several students crossed the street and confronted the protesters. Police said some students began throwing objects at the protesters and then a fight occurred.
Officers arrived at the scene to provide protection for the protesters, but police said the protesters decided to leave the area. According to officials, no one was injured, and one person was detained.
As rumors spread that Westboro Baptist Church was planning to return on Wednesday, the fight inspired a rally to take place as a show of support for the Gay-Straight Alliance which had lobbied for the restroom, the L.A. Times reports:
While school police blocked the intersection of Maple Avenue and Washington Boulevard, students waved rainbow flags and signs saying, “it’s just a toilet.”
“Show me what queer power looks like,” GSA secretary and junior Monique Garcia, 17, shouted into a megaphone around 3 p.m.
“This is what queer power looks like,” about 100 people chanted back.
Vanesa Palomino, 23, lives nearby and graduated from Santee in 2011. She said she was at the rally to support the current students. A member of the LGBT community, she said the outpouring of support felt different from her time at the school, when there was no gay-straight alliance. “I’m amazed,” Palomino said.
— Sonali Kohli 🙆🏾 (@Sonali_Kohli) April 20, 2016
Santee’s principal released a statement in support of the students, the AP reports:
In a statement, Principal Martin Gomez said he is proud of students at Santee Education Complex for their efforts to establish the first multi-stall, gender-neutral restroom at the Los Angeles Unified School District, the nation’s second-largest.
He dismissed the protesters as a small group trying to “discredit the brave actions of our students.”
The school added extra police presence in case the cowardly church returns.