Individuals from a small liberal arts academic institution in New York plan to counter a Westboro Baptist Church demonstration by donating money to an LGBT charity group.
Upon hearing that Westboro will protest at their school next Thursday, students and alumni from Vassar College of Poughkeepsie announced they would donate $100 to the Trevor Project for every minute that Westboro demonstrates at their school.
Do Something VC, a social justice-centered organization led by Vassar students, is advancing the donation effort. Placed on the donation website CrowdRise, the effort has already raised over $84,000 dollars from 3,145 donors. Many of the donors are Vassar alumni.
Founded in 1998, the Trevor Project is a national organization devoted to crisis intervention and suicide prevention among LGBTQ youth.
Meghan Daum, a Los Angeles Times columnist who graduated from Vassar, wrote about how impressed she was with the donation effort.
"As of Wednesday, Vassar's counter-protest had raised nearly $84,000 for the Trevor Project," wrote Daum. "And though I fear that the college is essentially functioning as a Westboro publicity machine, I also know that the excellent tactic of just ignoring the church would simply never hold up at a place like Vassar."
Daum also noted that in some respects the allegations of Westboro that Vassar is a devotee to "the homosexual agenda" is valid.
"… often as cheeky as it is … inclusive (one of the biggest all-campus semi-formal dances of the year was the Homo Hop), it's one of the gay-friendliest colleges in America," wrote Daum.
The actions of Do Something VC come as Westboro members gear up to protest at a few churches in Malibu, Calif. According to Knowles Adkisson of the Malibu Times, the Fred Phelps group that is unaffiliated with any Baptist denomination will be protesting outside of Malibu Presbyterian, Waveside Church and Our Lady of Malibu.
"Representatives from the Malibu churches say they are advising their members to ignore the Kansas-based protesters, who are known for their virulent anti-gay and lesbian rhetoric," wrote Adkisson.
Vassar students' and alumni's fundraising efforts in response to Westboro does not mark the first time an academic institute has countered WBC via donating money to LGBT groups.
In early 2009, when Westboro opted to protest at George Mason University of Fairfax, Va., students there held a "Phelps-a-Thon" wherein individuals donated to GMU's Pride Alliance chapter every minute that the anti-gay group demonstrated.