PLYMOUTH — A concerned citizen recently took issue with “Mix-It-Up Day,” a Plymouth High School event intended to encourage students to sit with someone new during lunch period.
The citizen, a member of Crossroads Evangelical Free Church in Plymouth, was under the impression that this event promoted homosexuality.
Plymouth Community School Corporation administration called a roundtable meeting Friday morning to address the concern and clarify the “Mix-It-Up Day” event. Teachers, local pastors, students, and members of the press were present at the meeting, although the citizen who expressed concern with the event was not.
“When I heard last week that Mix-It-Up Day was connected to promoting homosexuality, that’s the first time I had heard that,” said Tyree, adding that Mix-It-Up Days have been held twice previously at the school.
He later said, “Our vision is not in any way to promote homosexuality.”
Scott Yoder, senior pastor of Crossroads, was present and explained that National Mix-It-Up Day was originally started by a group called the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Yoder said that he had done some research on the group online and while Mix-It-Up Day does not seem to be promoting homosexuality, he does not rule out the possibility that the group has a hidden agenda to do so through the event.
A description of Mix-It-Up Day on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s website (www.splcenter.org ) states, “The event…encourages students across the nation to challenge and cross social boundaries by sitting with someone new in the cafeteria for just one day.”
Humanities teachers Grant Masson and Lisa Mercer explained that their class had been talking about religious tolerance and the five major world religions.
“(Homosexuality) has never been brought up in our class,” said Mercer.
“Our project is called ‘How tolerant are you?’” said Masson. “We asked the kids to created an awareness campaign about other religions, and I had students create fliers for the October 30 Mix-It-Up Day. Our project is based on tolerance, not on converting to people. These kids are strong enough to make their own decisions on spirituality and religion.”
Yoder suggested that the school corporation change the day or the name of the event in order to avoid the appearance of affiliation with the Southern Poverty Law Center. Tyree said that such a decision will be discussed between Masson, Mercer, and the students involved in the religious tolerance project Monday.
Mercer said later that although she plans to discuss the issue with her students, “We probably will change (the event).”
Tyree stated, “The idea of what you are doing (with the tolerance project) fits perfectly with the mission of this school corporation. But we are a community school and we get along. We are tolerant of each other.”