MONTGOMERY, AL – Amid reports of teen suicides related to bullying, students at more than 2,700 schools across the country are taking a stand to make their schools more welcoming places by participating in the ninth annual “Mix It Up at Lunch Day” on Tuesday, Nov. 9.
Sponsored by the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance program, Mix It Up encourages students to question and cross boundaries by sitting with someone new in the cafeteria for just one day. Many schools are planning activities for the entire day, and some use the event – designed to foster respect and understanding – to kick off a yearlong exploration of social divisions.
More than 1 million students in all 50 states are expected to take part in Mix It Up events on Tuesday. A map of participating schools, along with lessons and activities for educators to use during Mix It Up, can be found at www.mixitup.org
Cafeterias are the focus of Mix It Up because that’s where a school’s social boundaries are most obvious. Breaking down these barriers can help reduce bullying, an issue that has received renewed attention following a string of recent bullying-related suicides across the country.
“Mix it Up is a positive step that schools can take to help create learning environments where students see each other as individuals and not just as members of a separate group,” said Teaching Tolerance Director Maureen Costello. “Students can find out just how much they have in common – and that can go a long way toward fostering a school climate where bullying and harassment don’t thrive.”
In an online survey of K-12 educators who signed up to participate in Mix It Up, 85 percent said bullying was a major concern at their school, ranking it the top concern in the survey.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, based in Montgomery, Ala., is a nonprofit civil rights organization that combats bigotry and discrimination through litigation, education and advocacy.