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Church leaves when community showed support

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During halftime at the Homecoming game on Sept. 12, senior Landon Patterson was announced homecoming queen. To the student body and staff, it wasn’t a shock, many hoped Patterson would get the crown because she was well known around the school.

But about three weeks later, a church group didn’t like it too well.

The Westboro Baptist Church decided to chime in on this topic because Patterson was transgendered and it felt it wasn’t right. They decided to form a protest on Oct. 1.

“I tried to laugh it off but when I really thought about it, it kind of sucked. I was getting such positive support, so to have a group wanting to protest me was kind of shocking,” said Patterson. “But I knew what kind of people they were, so I didn’t let it get to me too much.”

Principal Mark Maus knew on Wednesday, before the actual protest was held, when the group posted it because they tagged @nkcschools and @oakparkhs in their tweet. Most students found out that same night too, but some even later than that.

The next day at the school that was what everyone was talking about. Maus ended up going on the intercom that morning and explaining what would happen and what was going on.

“The best action is no reaction because this group doesn’t deserve it,” according to Maus.

Administration also contacted Kansas City Police Department, Gladstone Police Department and Clay County Sheriff. They wanted to make sure that everyone who was at the school at the time was as safe as they could be.

It took Cpl. Scott Archer, one of our campus supervisors, and the administration team less than 45 minutes to develop a plan for OP.

“They made sure they were doing what I wanted. They also made sure I was safe and made sure I was okay which made things a lot easier,” said Patterson.

Oak Park was the safest place in the Northland. The school had so many law enforcement officers on hand that students didn’t have any disturbances.

It was just a normal school day, the only thing that changed was the end of the day traffic. All routes for school buses and students who drove were changed to make sure no one drove by the protesters to make sure they didn’t get the attention that they wanted.

Although students were highly advised not to go out there, several students did. The only way students were able to leave school grounds was to get signed out by a parent/guardian, if they weren’t signed out then they were counted truant, the same discipline given on any other day of the school year.

Patterson did have a good support base behind her through all of this.

“I thought it went well, my wishes were that it was peaceful and it was for the most part nothing bad happened so that was good,” said Patterson, “It was just cool to see I had that much support.”

When the protest took place Westboro only had six people showed up compared to Oak Park’s and the community’s 100+ people that were there to help support Patterson.

The protest was suppose to last from 1:15-1:55 p.m. but it started about 1 p.m. and only lasted a very short time.

Westboro had their own song and signs to go against Patterson, but the community had students, alumni and pastors come with signs that say things like “I support Landon” and “Long live the queen.”

After Westboro left early, everyone cheered in excitement that they ran Westboro out and could say they were Oak Park strong.

 

 

 

 

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About the Writer
Stephanie Brocato, Cambia Index Editor and Photographer

Hi! My name’s Stephanie Brocato.

I have been on Cambia for two years! I design, edit photos and take photos.

I’m also in band, track and Winter Guard!

I’m super excited to make an awesome 50th anniversary book.

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