The Westboro Baptist Church has targeted the creators of the new LGBT-themed children’s book Square Zair Pair — a story which promotes diversity and acceptance of others who are different.
Members of the antigay church based in Topeka, Kansas, and comprised mostly of family members of the late Rev. Fred Phelps, have threatened to picket the first live reading of the story scheduled to take place Saturday, February 6 at 11 a.m. at Books Inc. in San Francisco’s Castro district, where Square Zair Pair is being debuted as a part of the bookstore’s “First Saturday Storytime.”
The hate group began tweeting at the book’s author, The Advocate’s own entertainment editor Jase Peeples, on January 22, announcing their intention to picket and labeling the book “fag propaganda.”
— Westboro Baptist (@WBCSaysRepent) January 22, 2016
Westboro has a history of firing off empty threats, but in this case were quick to point out their earlier announced plan to be in the “slop zone of the Sodomite Capitol of the world, San Francosco,” to protest the Super Bowl on Sunday, February 7.
— Westboro Baptist (@WBCSaysRepent) February 3, 2016
In the days following their initial promise to picket the book’s event, Westboro has continued to harass Peeples through social media, tweeting art from the book that has been manipulated to depict the characters from the story holding the antigay group’s infamous signs.
However, Peeples views the bullying as a teachable moment that proves books like his are still needed.
“Westboro’s hateful actions only highlight the need for diverse books like Square Zair Pair that teach kids about embracing our differences,” Peeples says. “Stories like these not only help youth who feel they are different, they also help forge future allies who celebrate individuality.”
Peeples and the artist of Square Zair Pair, Christine Knopp, say they have planned a counter-protest to “drown out Westboro’s hate with an overwhelming show of love and support.” They’ve created a Facebook invite encouraging others to join them outside Books Inc. on Saturday at 10 a.m.
“The fact that they would bring their vile rhetoric to a kids’ event that is meant to promote a message of love and togetherness is simply disgusting,” Peeples says. “We’re determined that the only message kids hear who attend the event will be a positive one. Battling messages of hate like this is exactly the reason why we created the book.”