Grandparents Pull Eight-Year-Old from Christian School for Barring Girl from Dressing Like a Tomboy

Sunnie Credit WSETTIMBERLAKE, 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.

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“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.

Photo: WSET

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  • ponani shadrack

    The girl is possesed she need deliverance….

  • Holly

    The Christian school obviously has a strict dress code, and I agree that the girl shouldn’t be exempt from a set dress code… HOWEVER. I would question the school why it has such a strict dress code for young children in the first place. The 8 year old clearly knows she’s a girl, so I am not sure why the school pushed the issue. Children at 8 years old aren’t mature enough to make lifelong decisions about gender and sexuality, but are mature enough to start questioning them on a sensible level (hence the “is she a girl?” questions from other kids). Taking it extreme at that age is CREATING a judgemental and unacceptable attitude towards people that look “different”. If other children are questioning the sex of the girl, you don’t kick the girl out of school (that also make you look like a bully), instead you see that as a perfect opportunity to talk to children about who they are despite how they look, about love, acceptance of everyone, getting to know someone, not bullying, putting others above yourself, etc. That’s how you continue to teach at that age. The deep stuff comes later (high school or possibly late middle school) when they are at a mature level to understand it and teachers have already planted love for people in their hearts, no matter what lifestyle they have. You cannot reach people for Christ if you are going to judge them up front. She is obviously going through a tomboy stage, and like all children, just needs time, acceptance and loving direction. But to decide that an -elementary- student is acting homosexual at a young age just isn’t the school’s place. And is in the long run damaging to the child. I think the school made a bad decision here and should readdress the dress code and how legalistic they are being. I am disappointed in both the school and the grandparents (for letting it get that far).

  • Kate Roll

    Good grief, she is a child, not a woman, not a lady. Attacking a child….really? She identifies as a girl. So to my fellow sinners saved only by grace I caution you with throwing stones. Try some love. Sunnie needs to feel some love. Jesus can handle the rest.

  • Jordan Burch

    If that it’s the girl pictured above then she plainly looks like a boy and would be mistaken add one. She needs to be told to dress and act like a girl , because God chose her to be one, He did not choose her to be a man. Also, there are cultural standards involved and even cultural Christian standards involved which can vary from country to country, but I’m this cnn country we still understand a girl as dressing like ag girl

    • Kate Roll

      As a sinner saved by grace I know this. Him or her without sin throw the first stone. This is a child birthed to God’s Glory. Amen for her life. John the Baptist would be booted from this school. Conform to what? Pink ribbons or the thrill of being authentic with no guile. I understand the law and those who need it. I also understand grace and those of us who thrive in it.

  • Pastor Steven & Kathi McReynolds

    Did anyone read in the first paragraph that the little girl clearly considers herself a girl. How do you site that kind do of Scripture on an 8 year old. Your just gonna scriptually declare her a homosexual? What does choice of jeans and a t-shirt have to do with sex? How about offering some Godly, caring, and patient mentoring since she realistcally could be struggling and at a prime age for precious tender direction. She does live with her grandparents, for wharever the reason, whom I bet would have appreciated the extra helpful, restoration type intervention instead of the offered rejection. Sending the little girl out to who knows what and cheating yourself of this precious opportunity, doesn’t quite express the “caring very deeply” expression used above. Caring very deeply, last I understood, meant that love suffers long, and is kind, she’s 8. If her clothing choice, hair cut, and choice of sport at 8 years old is the priority over helping her develop well, then she absolutely does need a school with a more Christ like environment.

    • Holly

      Absolutely agree!