Editor’s note: This story was edited after posting to correct errors in the second and third paragraphs.
The retired head of an organization of Christian schools claimed young children in public schools are being indoctrinated in beliefs such as “transgenderism” in a Nov. 14 breakout session of the Tennessee Baptist Convention annual meeting in Sevierville, Tenn.
Ed Gamble, retired executive director of the Southern Baptist Association of Christian Schools, specifically mentioned the “Genderbread Person,” a model for understanding and teaching gender and sexual diversity introduced by Sam Killermann, a social justice comedian and activist who lives in Austin, Texas, and author of The Social Justice Advocate’s Handbook: A Guide to Gender Paperback.
Killermann’s uncopyrighted graphic uses an adaptation of the Gingerbread Man cookie to present gender identity and expression as moving along a continuum between masculine and feminine and separate from the biological sex assigned at birth. It has been promoted by groups such as Planned Parenthood in sensitivity training to safeguard against bullying in public schools.
The Genderbread Person has caused dustups in places like Lincoln, Neb., where the Nebraska Family Association presented it as a plan to train teachers to stop addressing children as boys and girls, and has occasionally shown up in classrooms, even though it is designed for use with adults.
“It is only the brokenness caused by Satan that gives rise to this ideology,” Gamble said in comments quoted by Baptist and Reflector, the state convention’s news journal.
“When you say there’s multiple genders you get nonsense,” Gamble said. “When you say there’s no absolute truth you get nonsense. We live in a world where nonsense is becoming the truth. Listen, this confusion is everywhere.”
A 2014 resolution by the Southern Baptist Convention opposed “all cultural efforts to validate claims to transgender identity” and efforts of any governing body to present it as “morally praiseworthy.”
Gamble, now senior consultant for the national organization representing the interests of over 750 Christian schools and their sponsoring churches based in Miramar, Fla., called for a 10-fold increase in the number of Southern Baptist churches providing alternatives to their community’s public school system.
Gamble said currently 5 percent of children in the United States attend Catholic schools, 2 percent go to evangelical Christian schools and between 2 percent and 3 percent are home-schooled.
That leaves 90 percent in public schools, he said, “where it is illegal to teach the full truth.”
Gamble is a longtime advocate of Kingdom Education, the idea that parents, not the government, bear the responsibility for educating their children to embrace a Christian worldview.
“Most Christian parents today count themselves fortunate if their kids graduate from high school and they’re not pregnant or have gotten somebody pregnant or they go off to college and they come home and say, ‘I’ll never go to church again,’” Gamble said.
“Satan’s strategy is when I own the schools, I’ll own the children and their culture,” he said, referencing I Peter 5:8, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”
The Southern Baptist Convention adopted a resolution in 2014 encouraging churches “to promote the establishment of additional Christ-centered K-12 schools and Christian home-schooling networks” but has rejected proposed resolutions urging parents to withdraw their children from public schools.
Other Baptists, such as Charles Foster Johnson of Pastors for Texas Children, believe public education is “a moral duty” and oppose efforts to allow government funding of parochial schools.