Stop Anti-Gay Campaign from Ending Tolerance Education Program

USDAgov2

Target: Tim Wildmon, President of the American Family Association

Goal: Don’t discourage student participation in tolerance education program in schools.

For several years, a program called Teaching Tolerance has been holding Mix It Up at Lunch Day events in schools across the country, which encourage students to interact with peers outside their usual social circles. The purpose is to promote tolerance and compassion for all types of students, but the American Family Association (AFA) does not see this as a positive goal. They are gathering support from other religious groups and urging parents to keep their children at home on the day of the event. They fear the program will promote homosexuality while condemning Christianity and traditional families. Prevent this hateful group from continuing their protests and limiting the spread of a beneficial program to schools around the country.

The Mix It Up program encourages students to interact with new groups of people to combat the segregation that persists in many schools. Spending time with different types of students, whether the differences are cultural, religious, ethnic, or just based on interests, leads to understanding and diminishes prejudice. The goal is to improve school life for all groups of students and to promote compassion and equality. Many parents and educators hope students’ education will involve learning empathy and altruism, in addition to academics. A program such as this one not only achieves that goal, but leads to improved academics by removing the distractions of bullying and peer pressure, creating a better learning environment.

The American Family Association has been labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the civil rights group that founded the Teaching Tolerance program. The AFA has been voicing its opposition to gay rights and spreading misinformation and hate speech about the gay community since the mid 90s. The group views Mix It Up Day as a threat to traditional Christian families, even though it is meant to encourage tolerance of all students, including religious groups. The Teaching Tolerance program has no hidden agenda, as the AFA claims; promoting tolerance benefits all who participate and results in safer and more effective schools.

The Mix It Up at Lunch program aims to connect students with peers from different social circles, and to ensure that all students are treated with respect. Tolerance is generally considered uncontroversial, but the AFA does not approve of this message of acceptance and has started reaching out to other religious groups to prevent schools from participating. The program is designed to include all groups of people and promote tolerance and understanding, not to influence anyone to abandon their religious beliefs. The AFA must stop trying to influence others to oppose this program by spreading misinformation and promoting intolerance.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Tim Wildmon,

The Teaching Tolerance program has been holding their Mix It Up at Lunch events in schools around the country for several years, and they have had a significant positive impact on students. The program teaches tolerance and understanding by encouraging students to interact with different groups of people.

Your organization has been attempting to influence parents and other religious groups to discourage schools from participating in the program, using false information to promote your own beliefs. The program is not about promoting a specific agenda, it is meant to encourage equality and acceptance, and to broaden students’ social circles.

The program that your group is working to defeat is one that promotes acceptance of all groups of people, including religious groups, and has no ill effect on traditional families. Condemning an event that is meant to foster understanding and lead to a decrease in school violence just confirms the labeling of your organization as a hate group.

I am asking that you stop spreading the lie that the Mix It Up at Lunch program is an attack on Christianity, and allow parents to make their own decisions about their children’s education.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: USDAgov via Flickr.

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