Counter-protest shows support for Stephens College policy change

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COLUMBIA - Four months after Stephens College announced its admissions policy changed, protests made their way to mid-Missouri. The school announced to students and faculty in late October it will now allow trans-women and gender non-binary students to enroll in the historically all women's college.

The Westboro Baptist Church stood on the corner of East Broadway and College Ave. Monday in protest of Stephens College's new admissions policy

The church said in a press release it would be protesting the college Monday, and students say the school made sure to warn them. 

"There was mostly just one email from the president of the school Dianne Lynch," said one student, Felix Noviel. "She just said that freedom of speech would still be honored." 

Although the college has kept quiet about the topic, it did show support for its students on the controversial day. 

"They've got their 'Hate Has No Home Here' banner up over there, and that is all the president really wanted to do," said Stephens student, Kasper Ramirez. 

Ramirez said that there was a lot of support around campus with the Westboro Baptist Church protest just across the street.  

"A lot of people are wearing their LGBT shirts, and some of my friends actually asked me if I would feel safer if they walked with me to classes and stuff," he said.

Members of the community outside of Stephens College stood by in a counter-protest with a safe environment in mind.

"We are here to support the students at Stephens because we support the idea that the LGBT community deserves to exist in the same society that everyone else does," said MU student Abigail Ruhman. "I think that overall what the Westboro Baptist Church was doing was taking that safety away from the students." 

The protest only lasted 30 minutes, but counter protestors stayed even after the church was gone. 

"Honestly, were still here because we want the students of Stephens to know that we support them and that they are loved," said Ruhman.