The anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church, which is known for picketing funerals, has been targeted on its own turf.
An activist bought the house across the street from Westboro's Topeka, Kan., headquarters and painted it the rainbow scheme associated with gay pride.
Equality House, as it’s now known, is owned by Aaron Jackson, co-founder of Planting Peace, a non-profit organization whose other projects include deworming efforts in poverty-stricken countries, establishing orphanages in Haiti and India and supporting rainforest preservation.
“For too long, the Westboro Baptist Church has been targeting the LGBTQ community with messages of hate and discrimination,” the organization said on its website.
Jackson, 31, bought the two-bedroom home for $81,000 without seeing it and moved in in January with a friend, according to Gawker.com.
He told various media outlets he was inspired by the story of Josef Miles, 9, who made headlines last year for his "God hates no one" counter-protest of a Westboro picket.
Hundreds of thousands have signed petitions asking the U.S. government to consider Westboro Baptist a hate organization and end its tax-exempt status.
March 20, 2012
James Spencer can now use the men’s washroom at his high school.
The 16-year-old was barred from using the men’s room when he transferred to Clarke High School in Durham Region after transitioning from female to male.
Instead he was told to use the women’s washroom or a private washroom that required a key from the main office.
“I thought, ‘They’re figuring it out, it’s temporary,’ ” said Spencer. “But as time went on they’re portraying the message that transgender people are wrong and they need to be segregated. And I don’t sit well with that.”
In protest, he started a petition that got hundreds of signatures and went from class to class at the school to share his story.
And it has worked.
The first thing the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board said at a Wednesday morning meeting with Spencer was: “We want James to use the men’s washroom,” said Spencer’s older sister, Jess, who was present. “It was really surprising.”
“We decided it would be most appropriate . . . and that’s the direction we’ve taken,” said Martin Twiss, the board’s superintendent of education.
As well, the school’s private, gender-neutral bathroom no longer requires a key, he said.
“We’re piloting (the accommodations) at this school . . . it’s certainly teaching us a lot,” said Twiss.
The board is also looking at policies employed by other school boards as it develops its own.