TIMBERLAKE, Va. (WRIC) — A Campbell County couple is outraged after Timberlake Christian School told their granddaughter she wasn't welcome because she looked too much like a boy.
Doris and Carroll Thompson adopted and are raising their 8-year-old granddaughter, Sunnie Kahle. They say despite her short hair and tomboyish look, she's a completely normal girl.
When Timberlake Christian School told the Thompsons that Sunnie would be refused enrollment next year unless she began following the school's biblical standards, they took her out of class and enrolled her in public school.
“She cries every morning to get on the bus, she cries when she comes home, because she wants to go back to Timberlake Christian School with her friends,” Doris Thompson told ABC affiliate WSET.
Doris Thompson says the school principal sent her a letter that reads in part, “You're probably aware that Timberlake Christian School is a religious, Bible-believing institution providing education in a distinctly Christian environment.”
The letter also 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.”
The school says many students are confused as to whether Sunnie is a boy or girl. WSET reports that TCS can refuse enrollment for “condoning sexual immorality, practicing a homosexual lifestyle or alternative gender identity.”
“How do you label a child, 8 years old, or discriminate against an 8-year-old child?” said Carroll Thompson. “It just don't happen.”
Doris Thompson said, “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.' How do you do that? I can't do that.”
TCS says the problem with Sunnie goes “far beyond her hair length” and that her appearance disturbed things in the classroom.
The Thompsons have no plans to re-enroll Sunnie at TCS.