Teaching Tolerance, an organization encouraging students to identify, question and cross social boundaries, is promoting its annual "Mix it Up at Lunch Day" – but some conservative groups are calling the annual campaign "a nationwide push to promote the homosexual lifestyle in public schools."
"We are very proud of 'Mix It Up Day,'" Maureen Costello, director of Teaching Tolerance, shared in an email with The Christian Post. "In thousands of schools, students and educators spend weeks to plan a program to fit their school needs. Although every school's approach is different, they share a common message of respect and inclusion for all students."
The campaign was first launched by Teaching Tolerance over a decade ago, and this year the event falls on Oct. 30. The group states on its website that the mission and purpose of the event is rather straight forward: "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."
Explaining the reason for the campaign, the group points to studies that have shown that interactions across group lines can help reduce prejudice, biases and misperceptions. Close to 2,500 schools across the United States have already signed up to participate in the one-day event.
The American Family Association, however, a group focused on preserving the traditional family unit, has said that "Mix It Up Day," which is targeted toward elementary and junior high students, is actually a push to promote the "homosexual lifestyle."
"MIU is a project of the fanatical pro-homosexual group, Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC)," AFA writes on its website.
"AFA is joining other family-oriented groups in urging parents to keep their children at home that day if their local school is sponsoring the 'Mix It Up' project," the group's statement continues, urging schools who have joined the program to withdraw their support. "The Southern Poverty Law Center is using this project to bully-push its gay agenda, and at the same time, intimidate and silence students who have a Biblical view of homosexuality."
Teaching Tolerance is a program of the Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights organization that works at schools to foster what it calls a nurturing and inclusive environment focused on equality and justice. The organization has branded the American Family Association, along with other faith-based and conservatives groups such as the Family Research Council, as "hate groups."
In her email response to The Christian Post's request for a comment on the AFA's claims, Costello said Teaching Tolerance was "disappointed for the students and teachers who have been working so hard to do something positive to make their schools better places for everyone."
The AFA did not respond to The Christian Post's request for comments by press time.
More information about the "Mix it Up at Lunch Day" campaign is available on the Teaching Tolerance website.