The family of Sunnie Kahle, an 8-year-old from Timberlake, Virginia, recently received a letter from her school, Timberlake Christian School (TCS), in which the principal informed them that, “TCS is not the best place for [Sunnie’s] future education,” because her dress and behavior were not feminine enough.
As reported by WSET 13 News, the letter emphasized that Sunnie, who sports jeans, sneakers and a short hair cut, could be denied continued enrollment in the school. According to the TCS guidelines, enrollment at the bible-based institution could be refused to students who live in, condone, or support “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.” The letter cited Bible verses, which they say are the basis of TCP’s principles.
Additionally the principal wrote, "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."
The correspondence understandably upset Sunnie’s grandparents, Doris and Carroll Thompson, who adopted and raised their granddaughter. Carroll told the station, “How do you label a child, 8-years-old, or discriminate against an eight year old child? It just don’t happen.” Doris said, "How do you tell a child when she wants to wear pants and 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.’ How do you do that? I can't do that.”
The Thompsons feel that Sunnie is a completely normal girl and the school’s stance is absolutely unwarranted. Soon after they received the letter, the Thompsons pulled Sunnie out of TCS. Doris said, “She cries every morning to get on the bus. She cries when she comes home because she wants to go back to Timberlake Christian with her friends.”
The principal also alluded to times when Sunnie’s fellow students were “confused about whether she is a boy or girl.” But Doris knows that her granddaughter is clear about her gender identity as a girl, explaining, "Sunnie says, 'I'm a girl. I know I'm a girl.' And she said well, then you know, you're acting and looking, and wanting to look and act like a boy."
Another school administrator told the station off camera, that Sunnie is a good student but the problem extends, “far beyond her hair length.” Adding, “Things disturbed the classroom environment.” School administrators told the station that they’ve made no accusations about “Sunnie being anything or anyone,” but rather, they were just asking that her family follow the school guidelines. The Thompsons are sticking with their decision and reportedly do not plan on re-enrolling their granddaughter at Timberlake Christian School.
Video and more info: WSET