Religious right kills anti-bullying day in schools

The latest in the continued effort by the extreme religious right to claim that anti-bullying legislation is somehow a gay recruitment tool.  It’s also part of their continued attack on the Southern Poverty Law Center, the 41-year-old civil rights group from Montgomery, Alabama.

Bullying via Shutterstock

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…

…“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.”

Clearly Ms. Costello isn’t too familiar with AFA – lying shouldn’t surprise anyone.  The irony, of course, is that they fail to recognize is that anti-bullying policies also protect religious (including Christian) students from the very persecution that religious right groups are always claiming they face in a country gone hostile to people of faith.

It’s also interesting that when the topic of bullies comes up, the religious right immediately thinks of itself.

Born and raised in Maine, Nick Seaver moved to DC to study political communication in 2003. He began writing extensively on LGBT rights during the first ballot initiative in Maine that overturned marriage equality. He writes about a variety of issues, ranging from marriage to issues facing LGBT youth. Follow him on Twitter at @NDSeaver.

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