Wilson High School students hold counter-protest against Westboro Baptist Church

(WJLA) - It was a message of love, not hate that filled the air at D.C.’s Wilson High School on Monday. The school week began with several hundred students, faculty, and community members participating in a counter protest against the Westboro Baptist Church.

The conservative, anti-gay organization targeted the District school after it planned its Gay Pride Day, an event last week where even the school’s principal came out in support.

Our kids and our community is about love...reaching out and embracing people and that's what we're going to do with them today," said Principal Peter Cahall. "Just a nonviolent peaceful protest. We don't agree with them, but they're still human beings and they have a right to speak their mind.

Under a heavy police presence, members of the Kansas church gathered a block away from the student-led demonstration:

"These students need the word of God just as much as anyone else in this world, and if the teachers aren't going to give it to them, someone has got to do the job," said Lydia Phelps-Davis.

But student Josh Kennedy Noce demonstrated as a way of honoring his two mothers:

"If you don't know them, don't hate -- and obviously these guys don't know them. They're just like everybody else."

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