AFA Deceives Parents About Mix It Up Day

On October 30, The Southern Poverty Law Center will partner with over two thousand schools to sponsor an event called Mix It Up day. From the Mix It Up website, the event is

national campaign launched by Teaching Tolerance a decade ago, Mix It Up at Lunch Day encourages students to identify, question and cross social boundaries.

In our surveys, students have identified the cafeteria as the place where divisions are most clearly drawn. So on one day – October 30 this school year – we ask students to move out of their comfort zones and connect with someone new over lunch. It’s a simple act with profound implications. Studies have shown that interactions across group lines can help reduce prejudice. When students interact with those who are different from them, biases and misperceptions can fall away.

There is good that can come from this. Many teachers and schools encourage this kind of activity without being a part of the SPLC event. As a part of the anti-bullying initiative at my son’s elementary school last year, such lunch time mixing was encouraged. While I am not sure how much it helped in the long run, it seemed well intended.

However, where there is a anti-bullying program/idea, you can expect the American Family Association to be there complaining about it. And that is the case with the MIU Day. In a Time magazine story out yesterday, an AFA press release is mentioned and has this to say about the SPLC event:

“Mix It Up” day is an entry-level “diversity” program designed specifically by SPCL (sic) to establish the acceptance of homosexuality into public schools, including elementary and junior high schools.

The AFA is calling for parents to keep their kids home on that day.

If possible, this is a new low for the AFA. There is just no truth in what the AFA is telling parents.

There are real consequences to the AFA’s actions. Some schools apparently have been intimidated by the AFA tactics and backed out of the event. I know first hand that some Christians become defensive when misinformed about anti-bullying initiatives.

Thanks to the AFA and Focus on the Family, self-styled pro-family groups are becoming associated with resistance to anti-bullying efforts. What is particularly disturbing in this case is the blatant dishonestly of the AFA in mischaracterizing the MIU Day.

I urge parents to send their kids to school on Oct 30 and go so far as to ask their schools to consider participating in MIU Day. While we have no megaphone akin to the AFA, I will encourage all associated with the Golden Rule Pledge to support any efforts to reduce stigma, stereotyping and bullying in schools.

 

 

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  • StraightGrandmother

    Of course you will encourage Warren, because you strive to live according to the example of Jesus.

  • Richard Willmer

    Wouldn’t encouraging parents to instruct their children to be absent from schools at which they are enrolled problematic from a legal point of view? (I think it would be over here, though perhaps I should check that point.)

  • ken

    I would also urge school officials who get complaints from parents (because of the AFA nonsense) to invite those parents to participate in the program, maybe come to the school for lunch on the 30th and see for themselves how it works (rather than just pull their kids out), and ask them how they think it could be improved.

  • Bernie

    Typical of Bryan Fischer and the AFA to bank on the ignorance and impressionability of their listening audience, in order to instill fear and hatred. Once again, and I’ve said this before, Such exemplary Christians they are.

  • Carol A Ranney

    The respect I used to have decades ago for Focus on the Family has long ago evaporated, along with that for the AFA and like organizations. You’re right, this is a new low. So as believers they want kids who are isolated at lunch to continue to be isolated, cliques to stay exclusive, and no doubt, Christians to cling together while they scorn and condemn those around them. Paul’s instructions in I Corinthians 5 are applicable here–“I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I DID NOT AT ALL MEAN with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world. But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one.” So I guess we should have a “Do Not Associate with So-Called Brothers Day.”

  • Dan

    The interesting thing here is that Mix It Up has no formal teaching component. There is no adult teacher “indoctrinating” any kid with any message. It is simply kids having lunch with other kids with whom they wouldn’t normally eat. So even if this event were gay-focused, why should AFA object to Christian kids having lunch with their gay-identified classmates? Shouldn’t AFA want that to happen, as it would give the Christian kids a chance to show how happy and loving they are, as well as a give them a chance to witness to evil gay kids?

    Embedded in AFA’s campaign is an implicit recognition that Christian kids can’t be trusted in their faith and that Christian ideology tends to fail when exposed to other views. If a gay kid and a Christian kid do nothing other than have lunch together and talk, AFA knows that, on average, it is more likely that it is the Christian kid who will come away changed – less fearful, less paranoid, less judgmental and thus less Christian.

  • Richard Willmer

    “Embedded in AFA’s campaign is an implicit recognition that Christian kids can’t be trusted in their faith and that Christian ideology tends to fail when exposed to other views.”

    An interesting perspective, Dan. It certainly does appear that certain ‘religious tendencies’ are very much driven by fear; such ‘tendencies’ are really very difficult to justify when one thinks of words such as “be not afraid” and “perfect loves drives out fear”. (Of course, I would again say that your perspective on what constitutes Christianity is a rather ‘narrow’ one; perhaps you might consider broadening your own viewpoint, as well encouraging others to do so?)

  • MWorrell

    I can only speak from my own experience from my own public schools, but if administrators in my district were, in fact, using the program as a platform to advance acceptance of homosexuality, it would not surprise me. I do not trust the AFA for accurate information, but I do not trust my public school, either. They’ve sent home letters in the past informing parents of programs with completely unobjectionable aims, which turn out to have been misleading when our kids reported on what was actually presented. If schools want to be trusted, they need to drop the secondary agendas.

  • Richard Willmer

    Is mixing with people with whom one would not normally mix a ‘secondary agenda’ in education? As an educator myself, I don’t think so.

    Specifically on the issue of ‘acceptance’: whatever one might think about ‘homosexuality’, it is surely never a bad thing for stereotypical thinking about anyone to be challenged.

    And now I really must say my prayers and go to sleep!

  • http://legalizelesbianmarriage.com Emily K

    Some kids are gay, MWorrell. Some kids do not fit neat little 1950′s gender boxes. This does not negate their ability to contribute positively to society.

    They (WE) exist. It’s time for everybody to get over that fact already.

  • ken

    MWorrell says:

    October 21, 2012 at 8:16 pm

    “They’ve sent home letters in the past informing parents of programs with completely unobjectionable aims, which turn out to have been misleading when our kids reported on what was actually presented.”

    Can you give a specific example of what you are referring to here?

  • Patrocles

    For an European Christian, that’s nothing new, of course. We’ve had a lot of pseudo-Christian theology intending to make Christianity palatable to the socialist/communist governments in East Europe. But I suppose that American Christians have to learn it the hard way, by their own experience.

  • Carol A Ranney

    @Dan, “…less fearful, less paranoid, less judgmental and thus less Christian.” It’s unfortunate that the vocal religious portray this very warped view of what it means to be a true follower of Christ. We are to love our neighbors like we love ourselves–this would imply wanting things to be fair, safe, and welcoming for each other person we come in contact with. That is what Jesus would do (and did do on earth) and Christians, including our children in school, have no excuse to do anything less.

  • Richard Willmer

    @ Carol

    Perhaps it is also unfortunate that those of us who deplore the apparent malice of ‘religious extremists’.

    Of course the problem we face is that we wish to oppose them, but without adopting their methods and/or ‘style’. Sometimes it is difficult: I remember you once taking issue with me for being rather ‘rough’ with a supporter of the Bahati Bill. Fair enough – you had a point; however, I judged that, on that occasion, it was ‘less bad’ to ‘have a go’ (the Bahati Bill is an almost uniquely foul and despicable thing, for all sorts of reasons), than to ‘let it go’. (I would add that the commenter I was ‘rough’ with was a politician – no ‘babe in arms’ – and often does his gay bashing from a relative ‘position of strength’ … i.e. a bully.)

  • Richard Willmer

    Oh dear! My first ended in mid-flow!

    It should have read:

    “Perhaps it is also unfortunate that those of us who deplore the apparent malice of ‘religious extremists’ often seem to have difficulty making our voices heard.”

  • Dan

    @Carol A. Ranney:

    “We are to love our neighbors like we love ourselves–this would imply wanting things to be fair, safe, and welcoming for each other person we come in contact with.”

    That sounds like a great idea. Please let us know when you plan to start this new religion.

  • Richard Willmer

    @ Dan

    Such a religion already exists: one only has to look at people like Desmond Tutu to see that. Tutu is not perfect, of course – and would never claim to be so – but his gracious and humorous approach to life is an example to us all.

    The problem lies with the use of religion as a tool of power politics; one only has has to look at the likes of Fischer and Lively to see that – their agenda is profoundly ‘political’.

    Perhaps things start going so horribly wrong with religion when people adopt the ‘God is on my side’ / ‘God’s purpose is to validate my agenda’ mindset?

  • MWorrell

    Ken, in one instance I can think of, the high school sent an email to all parents informing them about a day of education about tolerance (I don’t recall the actual name). There was quite a bit of information given about the content of the day, none of which hinted at the possibility of LGBT issues being discussed (the community is fairly conservative). When our daughter shared with us at the dinner table about the day, it turned out that LGBT issues where not only part of the presentation, they represented a substantial portion of the emphasis. I feel they were deliberately misleading because they didn’t want any challenges or blowback.

  • ken

    MWorrell says:

    October 24, 2012 at 3:10 pm

    So you are saying teaching tolerance is a worthy goal for the schools as long as it isn’t tolerance towards GLBT people? How christian of you.

  • MWorrell

    Ken, I’m for tolerance of EVERYONE. Absolutely everyone. There is absolutely no grounds for any child to be made or allowed to feel threatened, unsafe, or intimidated in school. In my view, a public school should not systematically weigh in on widely disputed values. That kids should never be bullied (by students or staff) is not a disputed value. That homosexual behavior should be celebrated and considered desirable is something people can disagree about for a range of reasons. In my personal experience that’s not a distinction that schools seem able or willing to make. I think I’m consistent on this issue. I oppose sex ed in schools for the same reason. There is a moral dimension to it that schools cannot possibly address, and to address the issue with no mention of morality at all is worse yet.

  • ken

    MWorrell says:

    October 25, 2012 at 1:19 pm

    “That homosexual behavior should be celebrated and considered desirable is something people can disagree about for a range of reasons.”

    Except homosexuality is not simply a “behavior” and teaching children that is an important lesson in promoting tolerance. And since far to many parents lack knowledge about sexual orientation, I think public school ARE an appropriate place for children to learn about these issues.

    ‘There is a moral dimension to it (sex ed) that schools cannot possibly address, and to address the issue with no mention of morality at all is worse yet.”

    Teaching “morals” is not what the school should be doing. That is something the parents should do. The schools should teach the facts about sex and sexuality. Any moral views on it should come from the parents. Most of the conflicts I’ve seen are more that the facts don’t match the parents beliefs (ex: “being gay is just a sinful choice they make” etc). Very few have involved any legitimate concerns about the accuracy or age-appropriateness of the information.

  • Ann

    “Except homosexuality is not simply a “behavior” and teaching children that is an important lesson in promoting tolerance. And since far to many parents lack knowledge about sexual orientation, I think public school ARE an appropriate place for children to learn about these issues.”

    It is not only parents that lack knowledge, it seems most people lack it as well. What knowledge do the public schools have, that is seemingly elusive to others, including the medical and scientific communities, to teach children about homosexuality (not behavior) that is definitive or even agreed upon? Teaching them about respect, the golden rule, and encouraging friendships is, or should be, part of their job and I am not sure a good teacher needs a manual for this.

  • ken

    Ann says:

    October 27, 2012 at 9:08 pm

    “What knowledge do the public schools have, that is seemingly elusive to others,”

    the information that many parents lack is that sexuality is not just a “behaviour”. That homosexuality is not a disease that needs to be cured. that homosexuality is not the result of abuse or bad parenting. And this information comes from the medical and scientific communities. I never said teachers had more knowledge that those who study sexual orientation, just that they had more knowledge than many parents and were better able to teach children the facts about sexuality than parents were.

  • Ann

    “I never said teachers had more knowledge that those who study sexual orientation, just that they had more knowledge than many parents and were better able to teach children the facts about sexuality than parents were.”

    Are you really saying that teachers are better able to teach children about sexuality than most of their parents? If so, where do these teachers get their knowledge or credentials about sexuality from to teach about it effectively and truthfully to students? It was my understanding, unless something has changed, that no one knows definitively or conclusively the genisus of homosexuality and there seems to be no concensus or agreement as to the personal nature of it either. Until something is substantially conclusive regarding this subject, why should a teacher be teaching it at all? Insead why not teach respect and the golden rule and encourage friendships between and among students?

  • ken

    Ann says:

    October 28, 2012 at 10:03 pm

    “Are you really saying that teachers are better able to teach children about sexuality than most of their parents?”

    Yes, however, to be clear I said that teacher are better able to teach the FACTS about sexuality than most parents. And I’ve said that several times.

    “where do these teachers get their knowledge or credentials about sexuality from to teach about it effectively and truthfully to students?”

    From a variety of sources I would imagine, college courses, continuing ed classes, seminars for teachers, etc. You know, the same sources they get knowledge to teach about any subject they teach about.

    “It was my understanding, unless something has changed, that no one knows definitively or conclusively the genisus of homosexuality”

    Nor did I ever say anything about teaching the “genesis of homosexuality”. Please stop trying to claim I said things I never did.

    However, there is a great deal of consensus about homosexuality (and just as much misinformation propagated by religious conservatives). Do you disagree that:

    homosexuality is not just a behaviour.

    homosexuality is not a disease.

    homosexuality is not caused by abuse.

    homosexuality is not caused by bad parents.

    homosexuality does not need to be “cured.”

    “why should a teacher be teaching it at all?”

    Because it is a part of human sexuality and should NOT be left out of sex ed. because of homophobia. Because there ARE gay students who NEED to hear that they ARE normal, that there is NOTHING WRONG with them because they are gay.

  • Richard Willmer

    I think that’s right, Ken.

    Educators like myself are often able to deal with issues more ‘objectively’ than parents. Of course, we should not attempt to tell our students how they should live their lives; rather we should present the ‘facts’ as best as we able with a view to ‘empowering’ our students to make properly informed choices of their own.

  • MWorrell

    I’m sorry, guys, but I have found myself in the position of setting my kids’ teachers straight about what they are presenting as “facts” or counsel too many times to be impressed with the unbiased stature of public school teachers. Teachers are often just as ignorant as anyone else and just as prone to present what they personally believe as truth. If public schools want to persist on this path, they will find themselves suffering from eroding financial and moral support in many communities, and increasing competition from better private schools.

  • Richard Willmer

    Yes, there is a large and important distinction between ‘facts’ and ‘counsel’. In my job, I must always be mindful of this.

  • ken

    MWorrell says:

    November 2, 2012 at 11:03 am

    “Teachers are often just as ignorant as anyone else and just as prone to present what they personally believe as truth.”

    You mean like you just did with this statement? I never claimed teachers were infallible, nor that they were always right. However, that doesn’t mean every teacher is part of some big conspiracy to push a political agenda.

  • inca nitta

    There are numerous examples where Christian kids have been punished by various school authorities for speaking the biblical message that homosexual behavior is a sin during school events, similar to Mix It Up, where the subject of homosexuality was brought up. I read about this in a book titled “The Homosexual Agenda” by Craig Austen and Alan Sears, lawyers who have been dealing with real legal cases of this nature. It seems to me that there were many other reasons why about 200 schools have disallowed MIA’s events, besides the contact from AFA.

    What Mix It Up’s website says and what AFA says is simply the former’s word against the latter’s, thus we can never know for sure who is telling the truth. Personally, I don’t think it’s fair to call either AFA or SPLC dishonest because each organization sincerely BELIEVE what they say. This is not to say that their respective beliefs may be grossly distorted.

    As for SPLC, they have been using misinformation a lot, by accusing people and organizations they don’t like of hate, so how can they be trustworthy?


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