The annual “Mix It Up at Lunch Day” — a decade-old program that encourages school children to overcome cultural, societal, or other differences by sitting with those they don’t normally hang out with during lunch — has been attacked by the American Family Association (AFA), as a “radical gay indoctrination program.”
The AFA is encouraging parents to keep their children home on October 30, warning that the Southern Poverty Law Center, which it describes as a “homosexual activist group,” is forcing a pro-gay agenda upon American children.
“Mix It Up” Day is organized by Teaching Tolerance, the anti-bullying project of the Southern Poverty Law Center — this year, more than 2,500 schools across the country are expected to participate.
“On, Tuesday, October 30, over two thousand schools across the nation will be observing “Mix It Up” (MIU) day. MIU is a nationwide push to promote the homosexual lifestyle in public schools,” warned the AFA.
“A strong focus is directed specifically to elementary and junior high grades. MIU is a project of the fanatical pro-homosexual group, Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). This is the same organization that launched hateful and malicious rhetoric toward the Family Research Council just prior to the August shooting of a security guard by a SPLC sympathizer.”
Maureen Costello, director of Teaching Tolerance said, called AFA’s warning “a cynical, fear-mongering tactic.”
“I was surprised that they completely lied about what Mix It Up Day is,” she told The New York Times.
The program is not about sexual orientation but rather about breaking up social cliques, which are especially evident in a school cafeteria, Ms. Costello said.
In some schools, cliques are socioeconomic. In others they are ethnic or religious or based on sexual orientation. By giving students a way to mix with other students, self-imposed social barriers can be broken down and bullying can be curbed, she said.
“Many of the targets of bullying are kids who are either gay or are perceived as gay,” she said.
But the idea that the program is intended as homosexual indoctrination is simply wrong, Ms. Costello added.
“We’ve become used to the idea of lunatic fringe attacks,” she said, “but this one was complete misrepresentation.”
This latest battle between the so-called family values christian right and the SPLC was sparked by the recent inclusion of the AFA along Washington D.C.-based Family Research Council in the center’s list of anti-gay hate groups.
The SPLC maintains on its website, and in ongoing informational campaigns nationwide, that inclusion on its hate watch list has no bearing on an organization’s religious stance. The SPLC maintains that these groups are included because they continue to defame and slander LGBT people.
Bryan Fischer, Director of Issue Analysis for the AFA and host of its Focal Point national radio program, disagrees.
“The reality is, we are not a hate group. We are a truth group,” said Fischer. “We tell the truth about homosexual behavior.”
Fischer says that anti-bullying legislation is “just another thinly veiled attempt to promote the homosexual agenda” by “punishing Christian students who believe that homosexual behavior is not something that should be normalized.”
According to Costello, about 200 schools have since cancelled participation in “Mix It Up at Lunch Day.”