Education

Wichita students have a colorful greeting for anti-LGBT group

Students at North High School in Wichita papered the campus in rainbow colors Thursday in support of their band and orchestra director.
Students at North High School in Wichita papered the campus in rainbow colors Thursday in support of their band and orchestra director.

Every year, seniors at Wichita North High School toilet-paper the campus near 13th Street and Waco to celebrate their last day of school.

This year, in response to an anti-LGBT group that plans to protest the school, the TP job is a lot more colorful.

Students papered the campus in rainbow colors Thursday in support of Stephanie Byers, a band and orchestra director who recently was named national Educator of the Year by the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network.

"It's one of the best things I've ever seen," said Marissa Higinio, the mother of a North High sophomore and a school nurse who used to work at North.

"I just think it shows support for differences, and it's just great. . . . North High is very accepting and accommodating, and it's one of the things I love most about that school."

Members of Topeka-based Westboro Baptist Church announced earlier this week that they planned to protest outside The Wichita Eagle and North High School on Friday. The group, known for its use of inflammatory speech and picket signs, is widely known as a hate group and is monitored as such by the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Sherman Padgett, principal of North High, e-mailed teachers earlier this week to alert them to the planned protest and urged students and staff members to ignore the protestors.

"If students ask you about it, echo the comments here and advise kids not to 'fall for' retweeting and other posting; it is exactly what this tiny group of people want to happen," Padgett wrote in the e-mail.

"We shouldn't fall for the trap and help publicize their hate."

Several students tweeted photos and video of the rainbow-papered campus, however, adding the hashtag #LoveTrumpsHate.

According to the North High student newspaper, the theme for Friday's senior pep assembly — which will occur at the same time as the planned protest — will be "rainbow."

You have heard of LGBT, but do you really know what the letters stand for? And how about QIA? Melissa Winter, youth advocate with the KC Anti-Violence project, breaks down the terminology for you in 90 seconds.

  Comments