The idea is that on one day of the school year, kids are invited to have lunch with the kind of kids they don't usually hang out with: the jocks mix with the nerds, lunch tables are racially integrated, et cetera. Sponsored by the Southern Poverty Law Center as part of theirTeaching Tolerance division, it arose out of a broad effort to tackle the problems of bullying in the schools and bigotry in society – and it appears to have been effective in breaking down stereotypes and reducing prejudice. Over 2,000 schools nationwide now participate in the program, which is set to take place this year on 30 October.

You can argue about how permanent its effects are, or whether other approaches might be better, but the idea of making new friends in the lunchroom seems utterly benign. Right?
 
Wrong, as it turns out – at least, according to the American Family Association, a radical rightwing evangelical policy group. Mix It Up at Lunch Day is, in fact, part of "a nationwide push to promote the homosexual lifestyle in public schools",according to the AFA literature. The program "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," warns the AFA website. "See if your child's school is on the list."
 
The AFA has urged parents to keep their kids home on 30 October, and claims that at least 200 schools have responded to its charge by canceling the program.