By Julissa Catalan
Eight-year-old Sunnie Kahle has been asked to leave Timberlake Christian School in Timberlake, Va., not for her poor grades or bad behavior, but because she looks like a boy.
According to the letter sent to Carroll and Doris Thompson, Sunnie’s grandparents and adoptive guardians, enrollment in TCS can be refused if students exemplify behavior that supports “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.”
Sunnie has a short haircut, wears jeans and T-shirts, and likes to play sports. These traits are enough for her to fit the criteria, according to the Christian school.
“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, TCS is not the best place for her future education,” the letter said.
It also quoted several Bible verses, which are said to be the principles of TCS.
“How do you label a child, 8 years old, or discriminate against an 8-year-old child It just don’t happen,” Carroll Thompson said.
“How do you tell a child when she wants to wear pants, 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.’ How do you do that I can’t do that,” Doris Thompson added.
An administrator at TCS said the problem with Sunnie goes “far beyond her hair length,” and although she is a good student, “things disturbed the classroom environment.”
The school principal also alluded to times when Sunnie’s peers were “confused about whether she is a boy or girl.”
Sunnie’s grandparents stand by her and say that Sunnie is clear on her gender and identity, both with herself and others.
TCS maintains that while they are not categorizing Sunnie, they do expect her to follow the same religion-based regulations that the rest of the students follow.
Soon after receiving the letter, Sunnie’s grandparents pulled her from TCS.
“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,” Doris Thompson said.
The Thompsons say they have no desire to re-enroll Sunnie at Timberlake Christian next year. She is currently going to public school.