Westboro Baptist Church stages homophobic protest outside high school of bisexual teen who took his own life

Westboro Baptist Church protesters outside Nickerson High School.

The viciously anti-LGBT+ Westboro Baptist Church staged a “God hates fags” protest outside the high school of a bisexual 14-year-old student who took his own life.

Barrett Miller, 14, was a bisexual student at the small, rural Nickerson High School who struggled with self harm. Last year, he died by suicide.

This week, The Hutchinson News shared his story in an interview with his mother, Jackie Crites, hoping to draw attention to the increasing rate of youth suicide in Kansas, and the mental health struggles of LGBT+ youth.

However, Westoro Baptist Church, also based in Kansas, caught wind of the news article and announced that they would be picketing the school.

In a horrific press release, the homophobic and transphobic church stated: “The Hutchinson News ran a news story on 15 March decrying the fact that suicide rates of Kansans 24 years or younger jumped from eight to 18 per cent per 100,000 from 2009 to 2019… The selfish, sin-promoting journos then had the nerve to blame the suicide rates on the fact that allegedly not everyone 1,000 per cent bows down to the ruinous sins of homosexuality and transgender.”

The church insisted that the real cause of suicide among LGBT+ youth was that they had not been taught about “their duty to obey God”.

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When local residents heard that the Westboro Baptist Church protest was going to take place, they organised a counter protest.

On Thursday (18 March), supporters of the LGBT+ community outnumbered the homophobic church members almost 20 to one.

According to The Hutchinson Newsthe counter-protesters held Pride flags, and signs reading “peace” and “calm down”, in stark contrast with the Westboro Baptist Church, who carried placards reading: “If you teach your kids to disobey God in any way, you teach that murder is OK.”

Crites, Miller’s mother, was present at the counter-protest. She said: “They have the right to be here. But we have the right to overpower their hatred.”

The 80-member Westboro Baptist Church was first introduced to the world in Louis Theroux’s 2007 documentary The Most Hated Family in America.

The church, which is designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, was founded by Fred Phelps in the 1950s, and is mostly made up of members of his extended family.

It has become notorious for picketing military funerals with signs reading “God hates fags” and ‘”Thank God for dead soldiers”, as well as picketing the funerals of AIDS patients or hate crime victims in an attempt to shame the families of the dead.

The anti-gay church puts homosexuality at the centre of its sermons, claiming that everything from the death of soldiersmass murders and natural disasters are God’s punishment for the existence of gay people.

If you are struggling with your mental health and are based in the US, you can contact The Trevor Project Lifeline for free on 1-866-488-7386 (open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week).

In the UK, you can call the Samaritans for free on 116 123 (open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week) or call the LGBT Foundation helpline on 0345 3 30 30 30 (open Monday to Friday between 10am and 6pm).