A Christian group has attacked a school anti-bullying campaign for "promoting homosexuality".
"Mix-It-Up" is an initiative by the Southern Poverty Law Centre in the US, which encourages children to break from the social cliques they sit in at lunch times and partner with a schoolmate who they otherwise would not sit next to.
It aims to allow children and teens to interact one-on-one with members outside their social circle, in an effort to prevent bullying, and has been run in 2,500 schools across the country.
The organisers began the scheme because "students have identified the cafeteria as the place where divisions are most clearly drawn. So on one day – October 30 this school year – 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."
But the scheme is apparently a "thinly-veiled" nationwide attempt to promote a homosexual lifestyle - according to the American Family Association.
Spokesman Bruan Fischer said: ""It's just another thinly veiled attempt to promote the homosexual agenda.
"No one is in favour of anyone getting bullied for any reason, but these anti-bullying policies become a mechanism for punishing Christian students who believe that homosexual behaviour is not something that should be normalised."
"Anti-bullying legislation is exactly the same."
The AFA has called on parents to ask their kids to boycott activities on the day, calling Mix-It-Up "an entry-level "diversity" programme designed specifically by SPLC to establish the acceptance of homosexuality into public schools, including elementary and junior high schools.
"Many school administrators were offended to learn that their school was listed as a "participating" school on the SPLC website and ordered it removed immediately. In some cases, students or teachers independently signed the school up without approval, leaving principals and superintendents unprepared for phone calls from concerned parents."
Gawker reported "200 schools had cancelled the program, although the reasons weren't immediately clear."
Maureen Costello, director of the SPLC's Teaching Tolerance project told the New York Times: “I was surprised that they completely lied about what Mix It Up Day is.
"It was a cynical, fear-mongering tactic. We’ve become used to the idea of lunatic fringe attacks but this one was complete misrepresentation.”