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2012-10-11

Email stirs false rumors about BMS

By Carolyn B. Edwards BCC Staff Writer

A phone call from a concerned Courier reader last week tweaked our interest. "Is Bandera Middle School teaching the kids to be homosexuals?" the caller queried.
The man had evidently received an email that urged people to be sure to find out if their school was participating in an event called "Mix-it-up Day" allegedly scheduled for Oct. 30.
Parents were urged in the email to keep their children home from school on that day to avoid having them indoctrinated into homosexual practices.
The pernicious message described the host of the event, the Southern Poverty Law Center, as a "fanatical homosexual organization."
According to Bandera ISD spokesman Tracy Thayer, "We don't teach our children to be homosexual, or about homosexuality."
For the past four or five years, said Thayer, the National Junior Honor Society has promoted a program developed by the Anti-Defamation League called "No Place for Hate."
Schools participating in the program can earn a designation as a "No Place for Hate" school, an honor which BMS students have earned in the past.
"It's part of our anti-bullying campaign," said Thayer, "and the kids at BMS do a fantastic job."
While "Mix-it-up Day" includes some activities similar to those in the "No Place for Hate" program, it is held on only one day. "No Place for Hate" activities are held all year long and will kick off on Nov. 6, said Thayer.
To combat bullying, "kids need help to learn to be friendly and kinder to each other," said Thayer. "That's what we try to teach them."
The challenge in teaching kids not to hate often lies in the fact that kids who are hated are also "different." They may be a different race, a different gender, a different religion, or a different sexual orientation. They may have different physical and mental abilities.
There is no evidence that any of these "differences" are contagious that we know of.
On Oct. 30, Bandera Middle School students will be doing college prep testing, said Thayer.
However, during the rest of the school year, as these students participate in activities in the "No Place for Hate" program, they may spend some time getting to know other students who are "different."
Parents who have concerns about their child associating with students who are "different" should discuss their concerns with their children.
The Anti-Defamation League's No Place for Hate website says this about their program: "The population of the United States is becoming increasingly diverse. Although diversity is one of our nation's greatest strengths, it is often accompanied by significant tension and fear. The need for a pro-active approach in the face of these challenges makes No Place for Hate® as relevant as ever. No Place for Hate® is a program that enables people to challenge anti-Semitism, racism, homophobia, and all forms of bigotry in their communities and schools. It seeks to provide a model for responding to and preventing acts of hatred and for developing projects that enhance an appreciation for diversity and foster harmony."
The Southern Poverty Law Center, by the way, began its existence fighting for racial equality in a bigoted South. Its program has since expanded to fight bigotry of all kinds, including the defense of homosexuals and others whose rights have been denied.
Their "Mix-it-up Day" promotes a lunchtime activity in which students are urged to consider thinking outside their comfort zone and sitting at a cafeteria table with people they usually wouldn't share a table with.

As far as the Courier has been able to determine, no student has ever been forced to participate in either of these programs; they are purely voluntary.