Recently, I learned about a great program called Mix it Up at Lunch Day, where kids are encouraged to spend lunch with someone they normally might not hang out with. The program was started 11 years ago by the Southern Poverty Law Center. What started in just a few schools is now in more than 2,500 schools across the country.
Although this is supposed to be a day to teach kids how to accept people for who they are and not what they are, many are doing their best to twist the day's mission. The American Family Association has called the project “a nationwide push to promote the homosexual lifestyle in public schools.” How can you teach kids to love all people as God loved us, while wanting them to shun those who don’t comply with what God said?
The American Family Association has already urged parents to keep their kids home on October 30, stating that their mission is to fight the “increasing ungodliness” in America. After emailing and campaigning, at least 200 schools have canceled the event with no explanation.
As a parent, I can understand parents being cautious about what their children are exposed to, but the purpose of Mix it Up at Lunch Day is to get children to understand that we’re all humans no matter what. As we all know, kids form cliques at school which can isolate other classmates. Mix it Up at Lunch Day is made to break down the walls of the cliques so that all kids will love coming to school.
When I was in middle school (and parts of high school), I had a really hard time fitting in with others. I was always too different to hang out with every clique — except for one. The one clique that I belonged to was made up of everyone who didn’t fit into, or had no desire to fit into, a clique. We were all different, but we all accepted each other. We were skaters, rockers, hip-hop lovers, geeks, nerds, upper income, middle income, lower income, gays, lesbians, straights, bisexual, and a variety of religious beliefs. Though we were blessed to find our kindred spirits, we were still open to discrimination for not following the crowd. Some of us were even self-mutilators for various reasons. Isolation from classmates didn’t make things any easier.
I believe if Mix it Up at Lunch Day had been a program at our school, we could have shown classmates that we weren’t from another planet and we could have gotten to know those rulers of the halls. A person can only grow if they step and think outside of the box. Maybe I never would have taken matters into my own hands and started acting out to be accepted as I progressed through high school and college. I wasn’t a serious problem child for my parents, but I wasn’t an angel either. I never embraced my individuality until my mid-20s.
Mix it Up at Lunch Day isn’t about getting kids to accept homosexuality; it’s about getting the next generation to learn that just because someone’s different doesn’t mean that they aren’t a good person.
Though he’s had some parents complain, Kevin Brady, head of the Avon Grove Charter School in Pennsylvania, is still planning to hold Mix it Up at Lunch Day. The parents who complained were sent emails from the American Family Association, but the emails didn’t reveal the true mission of the day. Brady said that once he explained Mix it Up Lunch Day, the parents decided not to keep their children home. He said he thinks parents feel that they’ve been taken for a bit of a ride.