Students at a Utah high school eat during Mix it Up at Lunch Day on Oct. 18, 2011: One Christian group says the anti-bullying initiative has a homosexual agenda.
The controversy: For years, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has sponsored Mix It Up at Lunch Day, an anti-bullying initiative meant to encourage kids to eschew their social cliques and spend lunchtime with someone they might not normally sit next to. The national event is now observed by more than 2,500 schools, but still, "culture wars don't take a lunch break," says Alex Halperin at Salon. The conservative American Family Association (AFA) — a "Bible-based cultural watchdog" — is encouraging parents to protest the event by keeping their kids at home on Mix It Up Day, which they claim is "just another thinly veiled attempt to promote the homosexual agenda." Of course, says AFA boss Bryan Fischer, "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 that should be normalized."
The reaction: Mix It Up at Lunch Day isn't even about sexual orientation, says Maureen Costello, the director of the Teaching Tolerance project, but about breaking up social cliques. The AFA, of course, disagrees, insisting that the SPLC oppresses Christian students and promotes a homosexual lifestyle in public schools. Well, "both groups consider the other a hate group," says Taylor Berman at Gawker. "But the Southern Poverty Law Center's case against the AFA is a bit more substantial" given the AFA's long history of anti-gay positions. This whole controversy is maddening, says Eve Vawter at Mommyish. "I wish I could sit down with the AFA and gently explain to them that sharing chicken nuggets next to a gay child does not cause homosexuality."
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