Is Mix It Up At Lunch Day Pro-Gay?

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Alissa_Sal's picture
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Is Mix It Up At Lunch Day Pro-Gay?

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/15/us/seeing-a-homosexual-agenda-christian-group-protests-an-anti-bullying-program.html?_r=0

On Mix It Up at Lunch Day, schoolchildren around the country are encouraged to hang out with someone they normally might not speak to.

The program, started 11 years ago by the Southern Poverty Law Center and now in more than 2,500 schools, was intended as a way to break up cliques and prevent bullying.

But this year, the American Family Association, a conservative evangelical group, has called the project "a nationwide push to promote the homosexual lifestyle in public schools" and is urging parents to keep their children home from school on Oct. 30, the day most of the schools plan to participate this year.

The charges, raised in an e-mail to supporters earlier this month, have caused a handful of schools to cancel this year's event and has caught organizers off guard.

"I was surprised that they completely lied about what Mix It Up Day is," said Maureen Costello, the director of the center's Teaching Tolerance project, which organizes the program. "It was a cynical, fear-mongering tactic."

The swirl around Mix It Up at Lunch Day reflects a deeper battle between the Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil-rights group founded 41 years ago in Montgomery, Ala., and the American Family Association, a Bible-based cultural watchdog organization in Tupelo, Miss. The association says its mission is to fight what it calls the "increasing ungodliness" in America.

The law center recently added the group to its national list of active hate groups, which also includes neo-****s, black separatists and Holocaust deniers.

Association leaders, in return, have gone on the offensive, calling the law center a hate group for oppressing Christian students and claiming its aim is 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 association. "We tell the truth about homosexual behavior."

Although the suggested activities for Mix It Up at Lunch Day do not expressly address gay and lesbian students, the law center itself promotes equal treatment for gays and lesbians and that philosophy then informs the school program, he said.

"Anti-bullying legislation is exactly the same," Mr. Fischer said. "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 that should be normalized."

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."

Parents who are on the American Family Association e-mail list were encouraged to keep their children home on that day and to call school administrators to tell them why.

By Friday, about 200 schools had canceled, Ms. Costello said. But exactly why was unclear. Of 20 schools that had canceled and were contacted by The New York Times, only one chose to comment.

The Chattahoochee County Education Center in Cusseta, Ga., canceled because teachers were too busy trying to meet basic state teaching requirements, said Tabatha Walton, the principal.

"The decision had nothing to do with taking a position on gay rights," she said. "We support diversity."

Although parents did complain to Kevin Brady, the head of the Avon Grove Charter School in rural Pennsylvania, the school is still planning to hold Mix it Up at Lunch Day for its 1,600 students.

Students will each be assigned a number and then paired up by school officials. The school has a large population of special-needs students who can feel isolated and thus benefit greatly from the program, Mr. Brady said.

The school started it a few years ago, inspired, in part, by the shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado and examples of bully-related violence that surfaced in schools around the country.

He said the e-mail sent by the association described a program that had "absolutely no resemblance to what we do." Once parents understood how the program worked, they decided not keep their children home that day, he said.

"I think they feel they have been taken for a bit of a ride," he said.

Here is a link to the SPLC's pages about Mix It Up At Lunch Day.

From a quick read through, it sounds like what the article says, activities designed to have kids sit with people they don't normally sit with at the lunch table, and also think about the implications of different "isms." I glanced through the activities quickly, and some did mention sexual orientation, but actually a lot more that I saw seemed to be more concerned with race and SES.

So, is Mix It Up At Lunch Day Pro-Gay? Also, what is wrong with anti-bullying programs? Other thoughts?

GloriaInTX's picture
Joined: 07/29/08
Posts: 4116

What schools have time for this kind of thing at lunch? None of the schools my kids go to would have time to do all this and eat lunch too, they don't get a very long lunch period, and the classes are broken up and eat lunch at different times because they can't all fit in the cafeteria at the same time.

Joined: 08/17/04
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I guess I don't get the concern the AFA has (and I normally don't). Hypothetically, if I were to agree with them how does this punish Christian students...isn't their thing still "love the sinner hate the sin"?

I think this program is an awesome idea!

Joined: 05/23/12
Posts: 680

OMG the pettiness is killing. Why can't people just let things stay simple as stated here:

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.

If I heard of this at school, it wouldn't have occurred to me to think sexual orientation. I just can't figure out what's wrong with people. I think this was a great idea to encourage children to socialize with those they'd normally not, very inclusive in fact.

Alissa_Sal's picture
Joined: 06/29/06
Posts: 6427

"GloriaInTX" wrote:

What schools have time for this kind of thing at lunch? None of the schools my kids go to would have time to do all this and eat lunch too, they don't get a very long lunch period, and the classes are broken up and eat lunch at different times because they can't all fit in the cafeteria at the same time.

It's just one day though, not like they are doing an elaborate seating program every day of the year. I trust that if a school chooses to participate, they think they have enough time to do this thing this one day...

Rivergallery's picture
Joined: 05/23/03
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IF school is supposed to POSITIVELY socialize our children, they should be doing this in the lunchroom. They should also be having various grades/ages including adults eat together.. isn't that what we do in the real world? Why exactly are they separated by age again?.. being a be snarky here.. but really what should the goal of school be? Once you answer that they you can better determine what should be focused on.

Joined: 03/08/03
Posts: 3189

Of course they have time, and I think it's a great idea to try out. At our school they do something like that for the special needs kids but it's voluntary. Other kids sign up to spend one day helping a special needs kid by being with them at lunch and recess for a day. My son was so happy for the opportunity and felt great about it.

Mix It Up sounds like a great way to break up cliques for a day and I really can't see any reasonable objection. If they were smart the anti-gay folks would see this as an opportunity to try to get through to the gay kids to go straight. I don't endorse that at all but I don't get why they wouldn't pounce on the chance.

Joined: 08/17/04
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"Rivergallery" wrote:

IF school is supposed to POSITIVELY socialize our children, they should be doing this in the lunchroom. They should also be having various grades/ages including adults eat together.. isn't that what we do in the real world? Why exactly are they separated by age again?.. being a be snarky here.. but really what should the goal of school be? Once you answer that they you can better determine what should be focused on.

I may be tired but I'm not sure I'm getting your point.

Joined: 04/12/03
Posts: 1686

This is awesome! It reminds me of Remember the Titans when the white kid sat at the table where only black kids were stting. Coach Boone made all of the players learn about each other. Getting to know others is never a bad thing.

As for not having time at lunch? Why would there not be time? We've done various activities through ASB where students were given a die cut with a number on it. If they could find their match and come to the ASB window during lunch, they would win a prize. They had plenty of time to eat, find their match, and claim their prize in 35 minutes.

Promoting the "homosexual lifestyle"? I've having a hard time figuring that one out. Is it that this would promote gays meeting new people and not sticking to their own kind? Or would lunching with de gays turn others gay?

Alissa_Sal's picture
Joined: 06/29/06
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"ethanwinfield" wrote:

Promoting the "homosexual lifestyle"? I've having a hard time figuring that one out. Is it that this would promote gays meeting new people and not sticking to their own kind? Or would lunching with de gays turn others gay?

From the article, it seems to me that they have a problem with the anti-bullying aspect of it. Maybe the AFA is scared that if straight kids sit with gay kids, they will get to know them a little bit, and will start seeing them as real people instead of just a "life style choice" to be judged and marginalized. In other words, maybe they are scared that the program will work exactly as it's supposed to.

mom3girls's picture
Joined: 01/09/07
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I cant imagine why the worry would be about homosexuals when it sounds like this is targeted at elementary levels? Is bullying happening at that age for that?

Spacers's picture
Joined: 12/29/03
Posts: 4100

Great idea! I wonder if our school might be doing this? Our school already has a few different programs in place to help combat bullying and get the kids connected with "different" kids. We have reading buddies where some of the 3rd & 5th graders read to kindergartners. We have lunch buddies who help the special needs kids. We have organized games at recess with a coach who mixes players up. Classroom seating assignments get shuffled around regularly so the kids have a new seatmate every couple of weeks. And our lunch room is so small that we have to have three lunch periods, and we don't allow "saving a seat," so the kids get pretty mixed up in there anyway.

And I gave up long ago trying to understand anything the AFA says or does. My life is much easier without them taking up my brain space trying to figure out their idiocities.

ange84's picture
Joined: 12/28/09
Posts: 6564

I think it's a nice idea.
It would never have worked in my schools though, primary school we had assigned eating areas but we just sat on the ground anywhere, unless you were super fast and got a bench, but the ground worked better for talking to friends, high school you just sat wherever you wanted around the school, we didn't have cafeteria's, I have never actually seen a school with one. We also had two lunch breaks, one around 20ish minutes, one around 40ish minute, maybe even more. In that time you had 10 minutes or so designated eating time at primary school then play time.

Joined: 11/28/06
Posts: 848

"ethanwinfield" wrote:

This is awesome! It reminds me of Remember the Titans when the white kid sat at the table where only black kids were stting. Coach Boone made all of the players learn about each other. Getting to know others is never a bad thing.

As for not having time at lunch? Why would there not be time? We've done various activities through ASB where students were given a die cut with a number on it. If they could find their match and come to the ASB window during lunch, they would win a prize. They had plenty of time to eat, find their match, and claim their prize in 35 minutes.

Promoting the "homosexual lifestyle"? I've having a hard time figuring that one out. Is it that this would promote gays meeting new people and not sticking to their own kind? Or would lunching with de gays turn others gay?

I'd kill for a 35 minute lunch break! lol Our kids have 25 minutes and that includes the time it takes to get through the lunch line and out the door when finished. It isn't nearly enough time in my opinion, but I suppose that's an entirely different debate.....

AlyssaEimers's picture
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6561

"Alana*sMommy" wrote:

I'd kill for a 35 minute lunch break! lol Our kids have 25 minutes and that includes the time it takes to get through the lunch line and out the door when finished. It isn't nearly enough time in my opinion, but I suppose that's an entirely different debate.....

DH's school gets 20 minutes. They say it is so the kids don't have time to get into trouble.

Spacers's picture
Joined: 12/29/03
Posts: 4100

Our school has 10 minutes of recess first, and then 25 minutes for lunch, which is plenty of time if you bring home lunch. And it *should* be plenty of time even if you have to go through the line for hot lunch -- if you don't spend it all jabbering with your friends. The kids also have three minutes of quiet eating time near the end of the lunch period where no one can talk, which helps with that part. Wink

Joined: 08/17/04
Posts: 2226

[QUOTE=Spacers]Great idea! I wonder if our school might be doing this? Our school already has a few different programs in place to help combat bullying and get the kids connected with "different" kids. We have reading buddies where some of the 3rd & 5th graders read to kindergartners. We have lunch buddies who help the special needs kids. pWe have organized games at recess with a coach who mixes players up. Classroom seating assignments get shuffled around regularly so the kids have a new seatmate every couple of weeks. And our lunch room is so small that we have to have three lunch periods, and we don't allow "saving a seat," so the kids get pretty mixed up in there anyway.

We have an organization here that runs such things...Playworks. LOVE the idea. They are mostly in the city but I would love them to come to our town.

Joined: 03/08/03
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I think we need a separate thread about lunch time. My son came home yesterday saying he didn't have time to eat lunch. The first graders were running late so they held the fourth graders back and he ate as much as he could in the time left (which isn't such a healthy way to eat) and then had to pack up.

It really isn't enough time. They need time to eat at a reasonable pace, and they need time to talk to each other too! They've been in classes all day, and at this age they're in the same room the whole time so they DO need a little crazy break-free kind of time as well.

GloriaInTX's picture
Joined: 07/29/08
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"freddieflounder101" wrote:

I think we need a separate thread about lunch time. My son came home yesterday saying he didn't have time to eat lunch. The first graders were running late so they held the fourth graders back and he ate as much as he could in the time left (which isn't such a healthy way to eat) and then had to pack up.

It really isn't enough time. They need time to eat at a reasonable pace, and they need time to talk to each other too! They've been in classes all day, and at this age they're in the same room the whole time so they DO need a little crazy break-free kind of time as well.

I agree I don't think they have enough time, unless they did an extra long lunch on that day or something. My kids bring home stuff in their lunchbox all the time that they say they didn't have time to finish and they don't even go through the line for hot lunch. Though some of that may be their own fault for talking too much or something. But aren't you the one that said they do have time?

"freddieflounder101" wrote:

Of course they have time, and I think it's a great idea to try out. At our school they do something like that for the special needs kids but it's voluntary. Other kids sign up to spend one day helping a special needs kid by being with them at lunch and recess for a day. My son was so happy for the opportunity and felt great about it.
Alissa_Sal's picture
Joined: 06/29/06
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I feel like "whether or not they have time" is kind of side stepping the actual debate, which is really about whether Mix It Up Day is a positive thing or a negative thing. I assume that if schools want to do this, either they believe they have enough time, or they will make enough time, given that it is one day a year. It's kind of beside the point, IMO.

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"Alissa_Sal" wrote:

I feel like "whether or not they have time" is kind of side stepping the actual debate, which is really about whether Mix It Up Day is a positive thing or a negative thing. I assume that if schools want to do this, either they believe they have enough time, or they will make enough time, given that it is one day a year. It's kind of beside the point, IMO.

This is what I think too.

I was a little out of place in school and struggled at lunch, recess, and other similar times. I felt so awkward. I used to wish we could just get on with strictly structured time. I was at a very different maturity and academic level so it was just so very hard. I wish a program to depromote cliques and to help all kids really get along better in school existed then. We need to work on helping our children develop in wholesome ways so badly. I watched the video on cnn from the canadian girl the other day and I thought I would just die inside. I just wanted to yell at her whole community that why didnt this girl have a single friend?

AlyssaEimers's picture
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You can not force someone to be someone else's friend. I would not have enjoyed having to sit at a table full of people that I know did not like me.

Joined: 05/23/12
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"AlyssaEimers" wrote:

You can not force someone to be someone else's friend. I would not have enjoyed having to sit at a table full of people that I know did not like me.

This is true. But helping all children feel more at ease can be facilitated. Sometimes, it isnt just the left out kind of kid that this would help. I also believe getting through these lessons and growing stronger are important, but there are lots of kids who arent making it through.

Alissa_Sal's picture
Joined: 06/29/06
Posts: 6427

I don't think this is forcing anyone to be friends. It's just lunch. I agree that in high school it would have been hard for me to walk up to a table full of people I didn't know or didn't like and sit with them....but that's the point of this. No one is sitting with their normal table ful of friends - everyone is sitting with people they didn't know or like before. And the fact that everyone is on equal ground (instead of me against a table full of people who are all friends) makes it a little easier, IMO. It's probably not enough on it' own to form lasting friendships, but maybe it's enough to just get the kids to see that they are all just kids, and all real people, and it's not the end of the world to talk to people outside of your own little clique. That's a good and important message, IMO.

Joined: 05/23/12
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"Alissa_Sal" wrote:

I don't think this is forcing anyone to be friends. It's just lunch. I agree that in high school it would have been hard for me to walk up to a table full of people I didn't know or didn't like and sit with them....but that's the point of this. No one is sitting with their normal table ful of friends - everyone is sitting with people they didn't know or like before. And the fact that everyone is on equal ground (instead of me against a table full of people who are all friends) makes it a little easier, IMO. It's probably not enough on it' own to form lasting friendships, but maybe it's enough to just get the kids to see that they are all just kids, and all real people, and it's not the end of the world to talk to people outside of your own little clique. That's a good and important message, IMO.

Exactly. My son is in 2nd and I can not see something like this bothering him, but he is not a cliqish kid. The kids in his class eat together in their class. The whole school does it this way. Maybe that helps form friendships an build confidence. These kids will be in each other's class til the graduate or move on to another school.

ftmom's picture
Joined: 09/04/06
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"myyams" wrote:

Exactly. My son is in 2nd and I can not see something like this bothering him, but he is not a cliqish kid. The kids in his class eat together in their class. The whole school does it this way. Maybe that helps form friendships an build confidence. These kids will be in each other's class til the graduate or move on to another school.

Our school is the same (but larger so the classes will change over time). Most classes the kids have to eat at their own desks so they dont get to choose who to sit with anyways. I would think if a teacher thought kids were socializing too much or getting too cliqueish, the kids would be moved around. Also, as the class changes somewhat each year, it gives the kids a chance to make new friends each change.

ftmom's picture
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Double post!

Spacers's picture
Joined: 12/29/03
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"AlyssaEimers" wrote:

You can not force someone to be someone else's friend. I would not have enjoyed having to sit at a table full of people that I know did not like me.

"myyams" wrote:

This is true. But helping all children feel more at ease can be facilitated. Sometimes, it isnt just the left out kind of kid that this would help. I also believe getting through these lessons and growing stronger are important, but there are lots of kids who arent making it through.

ITA with myyams. And maybe my rose-colored glasses are getting foggy, but I really don't believe that most kids choose to DISlike other kids, that's antithetical to childhood itself IMHO. The problem isn't so much that the kids dislike one another, it's that they haven't gotten a chance to know one another, to see how similar they are, to find connections. And this is what Mix It Up Day is all about, getting kids together who otherwise wouldn't get together, and give them the chance to open a dialogue. The friendship can come later. Or not.