Still smarting over its designation by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a venerable civil rights organization, as an anti-gay hate group, the American Family Association is targeting an upcoming SPLC-sponsored anti-bullying event, falsely claiming that it’s part of a plan to spread the so-called “homosexual lifestyle.” The New York Times reports:

On Mix It Up at Lunch Day, schoolchildren around the country are encouraged to hang out with someone they normally might not speak to.

The program, started 11 years ago by the Southern Poverty Law Center and now in more than 2,500 schools, was intended as a way to break up cliques and prevent bullying.

But this year, the American Family Association, a conservative evangelical group, has called the project “a nationwide push to promote the homosexual lifestyle in public schools” and is urging parents to keep their children home from school on Oct. 30, the day most of the schools plan to participate this year.

The charges, raised in an e-mail to supporters earlier this month, have caused a handful of schools to cancel this year’s event and has caught organizers off guard.

“I was surprised that they completely lied about what Mix It Up Day is,” said Maureen Costello, the director of the center’s Teaching Tolerance project, which organizes the program. “It was a cynical, fear-mongering tactic.”

Although, for my part, I’m not surprised — the anti-gay right has hated and opposed anti-bullying programs for a long, long time and never shies away from deploying blatant lies in the service of their anti-LGBT agenda — I’m utterly disgusted by how low these awful groups are willing to stoop. And of course, leaders on the religious right like the AFA’s Bryan Fischer claim that fundamentalist homophobes, not bullied LGBT teens, deserve the mantle of victimhood for themselves:

“Anti-bullying legislation is exactly the same,” Mr. Fischer said. “It’s just another thinly veiled attempt to promote the homosexual agenda. No one is in favor of anyone getting bullied for any reason, but these anti-bullying policies become a mechanism for punishing Christian students who believe that homosexual behavior is not something that should be normalized.”

The New York Times article reports that as of Friday, approximately 200 schools had canceled their Mix It Up at Lunch Day events.