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Olean school students protest against principal after videos of him saying 'intolerable' things surface

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Posted at 8:50 PM, Sep 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-23 20:55:00-04

OLEAN, N.Y. (WKBW) — “There has been so much prejudice against so many groups and there shouldn’t be. That is too big of an issue.”

Students at Olean High School organized a peaceful protest against middle school principal Joel Whitcher. They said the protest is in response to videos that show Witcher at his church.

“Abortion is outside of the government of God, gay marriage is outside of the government of God, Muslims, that’s outside of the government of God,” Whitcher said in a video from his church.

“My stomach just dropped, I felt physically sick while watching this video,” senior Elliot Lothridge said.

“It’s really important to stand up for those who may not have found their voice yet,” senior Chris Halsey said.

Some said because Whitcher made these comments on his own time, they should not affect his job. But the students disagree.

“He went past the point that he should’ve and that’s what brought it into the school,” senior Ashley Doxey said.

“He has the ability to manipulate young minds into believing what he believes,” senior Elliot Wibler said.

The Olean district school website says they are ‘committed to providing a safe, supportive environment free from harassment, bullying and discrimination for all its students.’ The website encourages students, staff and parents to report any incident.

“I’m proud of the kids to set this up and take initiative and use their voices,” parent Ty Malone said.

According to a 2020 study conducted by the Commonwealth Fund, 60% of adults in the U.S. believe racism is a big problem in the country. That’s up 11% in the last five years.

“We are finally seeing what we need to go kill, tolerance is killing the church,” Whitcher said in a video from his church.

“There’s no reason to spew hate, ever. And he just needs to be fired,” Wibler said.

Students created a petition on change.org to remove Whitcher from his position.