Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Students come together to protest Westboro Baptist Church

Badgers banned together to support, shield LGBTQ+ students from offense
Cadence Bambenek

A few dozen peaceful students drowned out chants from the Westboro Baptist Church with their own counter protest at the corner of Park Street and University Avenue Thursday afternoon.

According to a University of Wisconsin statement announcing the protest last week, the Westboro Baptist Church planned to visit UW after the campus was recently recognized as being LGBTQ+-friendly.

“A distinction of which the university is proud,” the UW statement said.


A handful of Westboro Baptist Church members held up signs outside of Chadbourne Residence Hall, one reading “God Hates Proud Sinners,” among others intended to target UW and its LGBTQ+ population.

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To demonstrate solidarity against the message being preached by the church, students sang verses of “Build Me Up Buttercup” and “Sweet Caroline,” songs traditionally played at Badgers’ sporting events.

Students also held up signs in rainbow lettering, reading things like “Love is Love,” to show their support of LGBTQ+ students.

At one point, students started chanting “One, two, three, four, open up the closet door, five, six seven, eight, don’t assume your kids are straight,” to Westboro Baptist Church members.

Hayley Archer, a UW law student who initiated the chant, said it was important for people to keep in mind that anti-gay hatred and violence is not a thing of the past, pointing to the Orlando nightclub shooting earlier this year and the laws passed in North Carolina restricting the rights of transgender people in public restrooms.

“This is not a harmless group of wacky people,” Archer said. “We’ve got to stop hatred everywhere it shows its face. We have to be there to stop it.”

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A few members of the UW anthropology department stood with open umbrellas and their backs to the church members.

Juniper Louis, UW anthropology graduate student, said she was inspired by an incident as a University of California-Berkeley undergraduate when a group of individuals held up umbrellas to block people protesting Planned Parenthood and disseminating misleading information about contraception, abortion and women’s reproductive health.

“Doing it now is kind of the same idea, of blocking misinformation,” Louis said. “I just want to make it a safe space for [LGBTQ+] individuals to walk past and not have to see these harmful things that they’ve probably had to deal with other places.”

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One pair of students held up signs with a reference to Spongebob and another pair paraded around as gay dinosaurs.

Such lightheartedness, bystanders commented, was a great way to counter and discredit the hateful message being preached by the Westboro Baptist Church.

“I think that light-hearted responses are great,” Archer agreed. “What matters is not the tone of the response, what matters is a coordinated, organized effort to say that ‘We are many and they are few.’”

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