Leave it to those right-wing “family” organizations to come up with the most ridiculous rhetoric. Just when you think they can sink no lower, they do. This year, the American Family Association is labeling an anti-bullying effort called Mix it Up at Lunch Day “a nationwide push to promote the homosexual lifestyle in public schools.” The program was started 11 years ago by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) to encourage school children to speak to classmates they normally would not to destroy barriers and combat bullying. The program is now active in more than 2500 schools across the nation. The falsehoods promoted by the American Family Association have caused some schools to cancel the event this year.
This completely caught organizers off guard. Maureen Costello, who is the director of the SPLC’s Teaching Tolerance project, says:
“I was surprised that they completely lied about what Mix it Up Day is. It was a cynical, fear-mongering tactic.”
This incident simply highlights the deeper hostilities between the Southern Poverty Law Center, which is a 41-year-old civil rights organization founded in Montgomery, Alabama, and the American Family Association, which is a Bible-based watchdog organization who says its mission is to fight what it calls is the “increasing ungodliness” in America.
Hmmm, I think the American Family Association needs to remember that this is a secular nation with secular laws, no matter how much its members might wish things to be otherwise.
Of course, this could have something to do with the fact that the SPLC recently classified the American Family Association as a hate group.
The AFA turned around and called the SPLC a hate group for supposedly oppressing Christian students and claiming that it exists to shut down any opposition to homosexuality. Says its mouthpiece, Bryan Fischer:
“The reality is we are not a hate group. We are a truth group. We tell the truth about homosexual behavior.”
WATCH Fischer’s remarks (story continues below):
Mix It Up at Lunch Day and its suggested activities do not directly address gay and lesbian students, but Fischer says that since the law center promotes equal treatment of gays and lesbians, that philosophy then reaches the school program. He further says:
“Anti-bullying legislation is exactly the same. It’s just another thinly veiled attempt to promote the homosexual agenda. No one is in favor of anyone getting bullied for any reason, but these anti- bullying policies become a mechanism for punishing Christian students who believe that homosexual behavior is not something should be normalized.”
Maureen Costello, the program’s organizer, says that the program is not about sexual orientation. It is about breaking up social cliques, which are especially prevalent in school cafeterias. Cliques can be socioeconomic in some schools, and in others they are ethnic or religious or based upon sexual orientation. Self-imposed social barriers can be broken down and bullying can be curbed, she says of the program. Further, she says:
“Many of the targets of bullying are kids who are either gay or are perceived as gay.”
However, Costello says that the idea of the program is intended as homosexual indoctrination is simply wrong:
“We’ve become used to the idea of lunatic fringe attacks. But this one was complete representation.”
Parents who received the email from the American Family Association were encouraged to keep their children home on October 30th and to call school administrators to tell them why.
About 200 schools had cancelled Mix It Up at Lunch Day by last Friday, though their reasoning why was unclear. Twenty of them were contacted by The New York Times, but only one chose to comment.
The Chatahoochee County Education Center in Cusseta, Georgia, said that they cancelled because teachers were too busy meeting basic state teaching requirements to participate, according Principal Tabatha Walton. She said of the cancellation:
“The decision had nothing to do with taking a position on gay rights. We support diversity.”
Despite parent complaints to Kevin Brady, who is the head of the Avon Grove Charter School in Pennsylvania, the school’s 1600 students will still enjoy Mix it Up at Lunch Day. Students will each be assigned a number and then paired up by school officials. Brady says that there are a large number of special needs students at his school who can feel isolated, and thus benefit greatly from the program.
Further, he said that the email sent by the American Family Association described a program that had “absolutely no resemblance to what we do.” He also said that once parents understood how the program worked, they decided not to keep their children home that day. He further opined:
“I think they feel they have been taken for a bit of a ride.”
We all know that a simple day to break up the cliquish and often brutal nature of school society in order to make everyone feel included and loved is nothing like poisoned candy, and certainly is about no one’s agenda. Seems to me Mr. Fischer forgot his medication again, what with all this paranoia.