High school students and strip club employees faced off in New Westminster, B.C., after the students rallied to have a long-running local strip club shut down.

A group of Grade 12 students collected signatures from passing pedestrians outside the Paramount Gentleman’s Club on Saturday. The students are petitioning to have the club, which has been in operation for 20 years, shut down.

“We believe the Paramount is supporting this sexualized society and we don’t like that,” student Adam MacDonald said.

But club employees say the students’ actions are uninformed.

Angry by the petitions that could put them out of a job, the workers fought back and staged a counter protest. They carried signs that read “Judgement without knowledge = ignorance” and “Get informed, get involved,” as they rallied across from the students.

“I’d like them to understand that we employ a lot of beautiful, intelligent women, who are empowered to make their own decisions about their bodies and about their path in life,” Paramount employee Ashley Pitts said.

MacDonald insists that the students don’t want to target one particular club, but simply wanted to spread a larger message.

“We don’t want to take away these people’s jobs, we know they need to make a living somehow,” MacDonald said. “We just want to get the awareness out there, that this is objectifying women.”

The manager of the club said the students should have contacted the club before mounting their protest.

The students’ social justice teacher admits the students didn’t talk to anyone from Paramount.

“Did we try to talk directly to Paramount? No, but we did research them though,” Ken Ipe said.

As the protests continued, passing residents had mixed views on the issue.

“The women are doing a legitimate job and they’re getting paid for it. Do we want the women out on the streets again looking for work?” resident Liz Green said.

“My goodness I’m so proud of them” one female pedestrian said of the students.

Pararmount’s business licence is valid for another five years.

With a report from CTV British Columbia’s Julia Foy