Last Wednesday in Maple Grove, several members of the Westboro Baptist Church waved anti-LGBTQ signs and shouted anti-LGBTQ slurs in front of the high school and two health clinics. Members of the Maple Grove community staged their own demonstration of support for LGBTQ students.

Photos by Larry Barthel. Learn more about his work at Triquetra Productions.

Sidewalk lined with chalk messages in support of LGBTQ students:

The Westboro Baptist Church is protesting outside Maple Grove Senior High School in Minnesota today to harass and intimidate LGBTQIA+ students. In response, @womensmarchmn collaborated with Indivisible Minnesota, the school's SAGE group, and Stand Up Minnesota to write messages of love and support to queer youth in chalk outside the school. 40-50 people came together to write these messages yesterday. When the students arrived this morning, they were greeted with words of love. #PrideMonth #Pride2017 • IMAGE DESCRIPTION: A slideshow of 9 photos of chalk drawings on concrete. The messages include drawings of rainbows and notes like "Pride," "Everyone is welcome here, everyone belongs," "you r loved," "each and every part of who you are is a gift to the whole wide world," "share kindness," "the world is more beautiful because you are in it," "be awesome, be different, be special, be brave, be beautiful, be you," "we got your back," "you r enough," and "you are awesome exactly how you are."

A post shared by Women's March (@womensmarch) on

The Civic Observer, which has additional photos from the protest, notes that Westboro’s appearance was ahead of schedule and that the group was absent when classes let out. After school, students rallied with counter-protesters.

Quick Country 96.5 captured video of the counter-protest:

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Andy Birkey

Andy Birkey has written for a number of Minnesota and national publications. He founded Eleventh Avenue South which ran from 2002-2011, wrote for the Minnesota Independent from 2006-2011, the American Independent from 2010-2013. His writing has appeared in The Advocate, The Star Tribune, The Huffington Post, Salon, Cagle News Service, Twin Cities Daily Planet, TheUptake, and much more. His writing on LGBT issues, the religious right and social justice has won awards including Best Beat Reporting by the Online News Association, Best Series by the Minnesota chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, and an honorable mention by the Sex-Positive Journalism awards.