Sign-carrying members of the notorious Westboro Baptist Church protested against the first openly bisexual Rose Queen, Louise Deser Siskel, at Sequoyah High School in Pasadena on Monday morning, and were met by peaceful counter-protestors.
Pasadena police Lt Pete Hettema said officers on the scene estimated the number of Westboro protestors to be about a dozen in total, split into two groups of about six each.
Hettema said the officers estimated about 25 counter-demonstrators standing on Neighborhood Church property.
The incident was peaceful, he said. There were no arrests.
Siskel, who is Jewish, said she is bisexual in an interview with Pasadena Now last December. She was on hand and remained calm and in a pleasant demeanor despite the group’s chanting and singing. She was supported by about 50 sign-carrying supporters.
The peaceful counter-protesters appeared to be mostly students and parents.
Siskel was surrounded by her supporters, many of whom carried signs reading “Blessed to Be LGBT,” “I Love My Trans Son” and “Love Wins.” Siskel wore a down jacket, jeans and tennis shoes along with her trademark eyeglasses. Some of the students came up to her and hugged her.
The demonstration ended without incident when the students went to class at 8:15 and lasted about 30 minutes.
Members of the Westboro Baptist Church have picketed other Los Angeles High Schools in recent years.
Church member Shirley Phelps-Roper traveled from Westboro Baptist’s Topeka, Kansas headquarters to protest the school and Siskel. Wearing a bright orange knit cap that said “Fear God ” Phelps-Roper sang “Know that we warned you!” in her version of Bastille’s “Pompeii.” [See video above]
Westboro Baptist said in a Feb. 18 statement that Siskel had been schooled in a “doctrine of lies,” at Sequoyah, adding, “That poor child has been so saturated in filthiness, that she bragged about being a pervert of the deepest waters, honoring what God has called abominable.”
The adults around the children at Sequoyah, the group said, “have woefully failed them,” and the Rose Queen is “stark evidence” to back up the claim.
The Westboro Baptist said its members mean to do good with the action, to bring the students of Sequoyah, “the only hope of life – both temporal and eternal -that is not filled with misery, confusion, and death.”
Those who had gathered at the school to support Siskel, departed to the Rose Bowl for a peaceful demonstration, according to witnesses.
Over the weekend, ahead of the protest, Pasadena Jewish Temple & Center President Jeff Landau and President-Elect Geoff DeBoskey noted that Sequoyah School had asked that there not be a counter-protest but the Temple did “want to publicly convey our unequivocal support for Ms. Siskel as well as all members of the LGBTQ community.”
“We also felt the best possible response to Westboro Baptist’s hatred was to use this as an opportunity to reaffirm the words of our mission statement: ‘We welcome all who walk through our doors seeking a Jewish home to pray, to learn, to connect, and to celebrate with us.’ Indeed, we embrace diversity in all its forms because our diversity makes us stronger and more vibrant.”
Demonstrators, Counter Demonstrators Face Off at Anti-LGBTQ Rose Queen Protest