TIMBERLAKE, Va. — The grandparents of an eight-year-old girl in Virginia have pulled the child from her Christian school after it expressed concerns about her dressing and behaving like a tomboy, stating that her lack of femininity does not align with the biblical standards of the school.
Sunnie Kahle arrives at Timberlake Christian School each morning in jeans, a t-shirt and sneakers. Sporting a short haircut, she expresses her interest in activities like football, but when asked, makes it clear that she is a girl.
However, Becky Bowman, the principal of the school, recently sent a letter home to Sunnie’s grandmother, Doris Thompson, to state that unless Sunnie’s choice of clothing and behavior is more becoming of a young lady, she will rejected for enrollment next year. Thompson raises Sunnie with her husband Carroll.
“Sunnie is a very bright girl, and we care very deeply about her well being,” the letter stated. “It seems that Sunnie has had a difficult year at times with some of the struggles that you and I have talked about on the phone. There have also been several occasions when the other students, particularly those who do not know Sunnie personally, have been confused about whether she is a boy or girl, and at times, those occasions have been troubling to Sunnie.”
The correspondence cited several Bible verses, noting that the school has the right to deny enrollment to any student that engages in “sexual immorality; practicing homosexual lifestyle or alternative gender identity; promoting such practices; or otherwise having the inability to support the moral principles of the school.”
“You’re probably aware that Timberlake Christian School is a religious, Bible believing institution providing education in a distinctly Christian environment,” the letter stated. “We believe that unless Sunnie, as well as her family, clearly understand that God has made her female and her dress and behavior need to follow suit with her God-ordained identity, that TCS is not the best place for her future education.”
But now, Sunnie’s grandparents are upset with Bowman and have enrolled the child in public school. They state that Sunnie is a normal little girl and that she cannot be forced to be more feminine.
“How do you tell a child when she wants to wear pants and a shirt, and go out and play in the mud and so forth, how do you tell her, ‘No, you can’t. You’ve got to wear a pink bow in your hair, and you’ve got to let your hair grow out long,'” Thompson told local television station WSET. “How do you do that? I can’t do that.”
Sunnie’s grandfather classified the school’s reaction as “discrimination.”
But an unnamed school official also told the outlet that problems with Sunnie extended “far beyond her hair length,” asserting that “things disturbed the classroom environment.” No further information was provided about the school’s concerns.
The Thompson’s state that Sunnie will not be returning to the school because of its policies, but that the little girl misses her classmates.
“She cries when she comes home because she wants to go back to Timberlake Christian with her friends,” Doris stated.