WATCH: D.C. High School Defends Out Principal Against Westboro Picket
Roughly 1,000 people rallied outside Washington, D.C.'s Woodrow Wilson High School Monday when the antigay Westboro Baptist Church showed up to picket the school's principal, Pete Cahall, who came out for the first time to the student body at last week's Pride Day.
According to The Washington Post, hundreds of students, teachers, alumni, and neighborhood residents turned out to share a message of love and acceptance for all members of the Woodrow Wilson community, in stark contrast to the message of the dozen members of the Topeka, Kan.-based church who were on site to claim that homosexuality invokes God's wrath. A Westboro member told the Post the contingent was specifically protesting Cahill's coming-out, which the member called "shameful."
For his part, the newly out principal told the Post that "students should be proud of themselves" for the impressive turnout at the nonviolent demonstration Monday.
The church, which has been certified as an antigay hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, has gained international infamy from its frequent pickets of the funerals AIDS sufferers and of fallen soldiers (where its members carried placards proclaiming "Thank God for IEDs") and its 1998 protest the funeral of slain gay college student Matthew Shepard. Known for its "God Hates Fags" message, the church is made up mostly of immediate family members — by blood or marriage — of its late founder, the Rev. Fred Phelps.
Members of the church had several pickets planned in the greater D.C. area Monday, though it's unclear if the church made any of its additional scheduled stops after being drowned out by the pro-equality counterprotest at Woodrow Wilson High.
Watch a local report on the counterprotest below, and see photos from the demonstration underneath the video.
Woodrow Wilson High School principal Pete Cahill waves a rainbow flag during a counterprotest of the Westboro Baptist Church's picket.