Virginia girl’s style not feminine enough for Lynchburg Christian school

(A later follow-up to this story here.)

Last week came the story of a boy in Buncombe County, N.C., who got bullied when he showed up at school with a “My Little Pony” bag. His public school told him to lose the bag — which outraged the cybersphere until the school relented.

Apparently, he wasn’t seen as masculine enough.

Now comes the story of a girl apparently thought by her school as not feminine enough.

It happened last month but is just now coming out — everywhere.

The 8-year-old Lynchburg, Va., girl has an affinity for autographed baseballs, collector coins and hunting knives. She likes to wear T-shirts and sneakers. She plays sports. And she keeps her hair short.

Her private Christian school sent a letter to her grandmother and guardian saying she should dress and act more like a girl.


Sunnie Kahle, an 8-year-old girl in Virginia has been told that she can not return to her Christian school because she looks like a boy.(Photo courtesy of WDBJ7)

It states:

“You’re probably aware that Timberlake Christian School is a religious, Bible believing institution providing education in a distinctly Christian environment … 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 letter also states that Sunnie Kahle’s fellow students have been confused about whether she is a boy or a girl.

The school says there’s more to the story and takes issue with the “narrative,” which has come from her family. But citing confidentiality reasons, it declines to explain.

She knows she’s a girl, her grandmother said. She simply likes all kinds of toys — regardless of what societal norms say.

“Sunnie realizes she’s a female, but she wants to do boy things,” Doris Thompson, Sunnie’s grandmother and legal guardian, told WDBJ. “She wants to play rough and tough.”

The family has pulled her out of Timberlake Christian Schools.

ABC 27 reported that an administrator from the school said the issue goes “far beyond her hair length” and that Sunnie is a good student, but that “things disturbed the classroom environment.”

Now, Sunnie is in public school. But, her grandmother said, she cries every morning because she misses her old friends.

The school issued this statement on March 25:

“We are heart-broken that Sunnie’s grandparents have made her the subject of a public discussion. We regret that they made the decision to withdraw Sunnie immediately from Timberlake Christian Schools.

“For confidentiality reasons related to a minor, it is not possible for us to explain in full detail the volume of documentation we have concerning the situation that the grandparents have made public. There is much more to this story than has been revealed related to Sunnie and the classroom environment. Our documentation shows a significantly different narrative than the one portrayed in the original news report.”

Lindsey Bever is a national news reporter for The Washington Post. She writes for the Morning Mix news blog. Tweet her: @lindseybever

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