A conservative evangelical group is encouraging parents to boycott “Mix It Up at Lunch Day” on Oct. 30 by keeping their children home from school.
The program was launched 11 years ago by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a means of breaking up social cliques and curbing bullying. The American Family Association, however, claims it represents “a nationwide push to promote the homosexual lifestyle in public schools,” reports the New York Times.
The SPLC has recently added the association to its national list of active hate groups — a list that also includes neo-Nazis, black separatists and Holocaust deniers. Meanwhile, AFA leaders have responded by calling the law center a hate group for oppressing Christian students and trying to shut down groups that oppose homosexuality.
“The reality is we are not a hate group. We are a truth group,” said Bryan Fischer, director of issue analysis for the American Family Association. “We tell the truth about homosexual behavior.”
Maureen Costello, the director of the SPLC’s Teaching Tolerance project, which organizes the program, told the Times “Mix It Up Day” is not centered around sexual orientation, but rather breaking down self-imposed social barriers that tend to be most apparent in the school cafeteria.
While she acknowledged that many bullying targets are kids who are either gay or are perceived as gay, Costello said the idea that the program is intended as homosexual indoctrination is wrong and “complete misrepresentation.”
“Mix It Up at Lunch Day” is currently in place at more than 2,500 schools, but by Friday about 200 had canceled, though the reason for the cancelations remains unclear. The only school that agreed to comment to the Times, Chattahoochee County Education Center in Cusseta, Ga., said they canceled because teachers were too busy trying to meet basic state teaching requirements.
“The decision had nothing to do with taking a position on gay rights,” school principal Tabatha Walton said. “We support diversity.”
In an op-ed for KOMO News, commentator Ken Schram writes, “How incredibly sad that a fringe group of fear-mongering people would exert their influence to try to squelch efforts aimed at helping kids who are picked on, ostracized and bullied for what may be their skin color, religion, social status and yes, their sexual orientation.
“Let's hope that schools here in our area stand their ground and go forward with the 'Mix It Up at Lunch' program,” he continued.
In April, the evangelical group Focus on the Family countered the “Day of Silence” — an annual event to protest LGBT bullying on April 20 — with its own “Day of Dialogue.” The group’s aim was to curb an effort that "crosses the line in a lot of ways beyond bullying into indoctrination, just promoting homosexuality and transgenderism."