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.
If I understand the objection correctly (and it requires several minutes of beating my head against a wall before I can properly channel their thought processes), an event meant to diminish bullying overall may in some cases result in less anti-gay bullying. (A rising tide lifting all boats kind of situation.) And I guess their opinion is that bullying is a perfectly acceptable way of reminding gay students (or the occasional collateral-damage non-gay student who is simply bullied using anti-gay slurs) that they are horrible perverts, and thus attempts at alleviating the bullying are a way of “promot[ing] the homosexual lifestyle.” Do I have that right?
(I’ve got to hand it to fellow Ordinary Tod, I don’t think I could spend an hour around these people, much less several days. My hat’s off to you, man.)
There really isn’t much to be said about the American Family Association’s objections to the anti-bullying campaign. The idiocy and nastiness speak for themselves, and what can one really say, anyhow? Res ipsa loquitur. Surely nobody could take their stupidity seriously, right?
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.
Wonderful. I don’t know how many schools count as a “handful,” but it’s just a charming thought to know even one felt compelled to cancel a perfectly laudable program because of these lunatics. The skeptic in me questions how effective events like Mix It Up at Lunch Day really are, but the decent human being in me wants to schedule one every week until the end of time if it means the American Family Association’s attempts to mau-mau people fall flat.
Then there’s this little bit of dark comedy:
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-Nazis, 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.”
No doubt Holocaust deniers wave that same “we’re just telling the truth” flag, Bryan. Hateful is as hateful does. Perpetuating the misery of gay students sure looks like hate to me, as does perpetuating the misery of any student who’s getting bullied because it suits your agenda to do so. I’m sure Jesus is super-proud to be associated with you.
It would be such a pretty thing if the ugliness and idiocy of organizations like the American Family Association were sufficient in themselves to rob them of their relevance in our country’s political life. It would be a joy if the obvious dissonance between their actions and the words of Christ was enough to strip them of their power. And it would be wonderful if everyone who aspired to lead our nation would eschew any connection with the likes of Bryan Fischer.
Sadly, that’s not the world we live in. Schools still knuckle under and certain politicians still kowtow. Some kids (and not just gay ones) who maybe, just maybe might have had a better life have lost a chance for things to get a little bit kinder. I call that hateful, and I’m glad the Southern Poverty Law Center does, too.