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The Pasadena Tournament of Roses announced Louise Deser Siskel in December as the Rose Queen in a groundbreaking decision in the organization's history.

The 18-year-old Jewish student is the first openly bisexual to be honored as a member and queen of the royal court.

But not everyone embraced the news. On Monday, five members of the reviled Westboro Baptist Church (WBC), a congregation deemed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, staged a protest at Sequoyah High School where Siskel attends.

They carried signs that said "God H8s Sin & Sinner," and "God Hates Proud Sinners."

The Topeka, Kansas-based anti-gay group issued a statement spewing their vile opposition and slammed the faculty members for teaching "doctrines of lies".


WBC wrote:

"That poor child has been so saturated in filthiness, that she bragged about being a pervert of the deepest waters ('the first LGBTQ queen'), honouring what God has called abominable. Uh-oh! That calls for preaching!"




But Siskel has allies. Plenty of them.


You can watch the CBS News report of the incident in the YouTube clip, below.


Community Rallies To Support Openly Bisexual Rose Queen Under www.youtube.com


According to Pasadena Star News, Siskel's fellow students in addition to members of the local Neighborhood Unitarian Universalist Church were prepared with a countermeasure.

However, the Rev. Lissa Anne Gundlach sent a letter to the Universalist Church community members discouraging engaging with the WBC protestors and set up a training session for those interested in supporting Siskel peacefully.

A copy of the letter was also posted on the group's Facebook page.



Instead, she wanted to envelope the students at the high school with a non-violent response.

"We do not want to feed this group's hunger for publicity or provide a megaphone for their words of hate. We want to support and surround the Sequoyah students and parents with messages of love."

Twenty five supporters from both Sequoyah and the church held a hand-painted sign with rainbow lettering that read, "My God (Heart) All & So Do We" while standing in the driveway during the morning-drop off period away from the protesters.



Jessica Gable, communications coordinator for Neighborhood Unitarian Universalist Church, expressed her pride to PSN about the demonstration's effectiveness in avoiding distracting the students.

"It's still a school day. Honestly, the only thing they should be responsible for today is going to school and learning and growing as human beings. They should not have to have their day interrupted by hateful rhetoric."





Rev. Gundlach said WBC's protest won't prevent her church from praying for the protestors so they that may find love and compassion for others.

"God is a God of love. Even in this moment when they are sending us messages of hate, we will continue to love them and pray for them and have compassion for them because hate is a corrosive element for our hearts."

Former Rose Queen from 1962 Martha Bell also expressed her praise for the new member on the royal court.



She told CBS News of Siskel:

"I think she's a wonderful Rose Queen, she's extremely articulate, she's well-balanced and I believe in her right to be exactly who she is."

The Tournament of Roses is Pasadena's annual event culminating in the Rose Parade that takes place on Colorado Blvd. in the city of Pasadena on New Year's Day.

To be eligible as a Rose Queen, applicants must never have been married or marriages annulled; and between the ages 17 - 21; and either be a senior in high school or enrolled in college in the Pasadena city college district.

Selected members of the royal court attend hundreds of events throughout the year in Southern California and preside during the Rose Bowl after they've participated in the nationally televised new year's procession.

Image by Mary Pahlke from Pixabay

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