Timberlake Christian Defends Kicking Out Tomboy

by Winnie McCroy
EDGE Editor
Monday Mar 31, 2014

In the continuing saga of a Virginia Christian school who kicked out an eight-year-old tomboy for being too butch, the school is now defending its actions, saying that they were "unfairly portrayed in the media" and that in fact it was the child's behavior problems that "disturbed the classroom environment."

"This matter is far beyond a simple 'hairstyle and tomboy issue' as inaccurately portrayed," the statement on the Timberlake Christian School website reads. "It is not about that at all. At no time did the Church or the School state or imply that S.K. was sexually immoral or the like."

As reported in an earlier EDGE story, Campbell County youth Sunnie Kahle had received a letter from administrators at Timberlake Christian School, where she was a student, telling her that it was their right to refuse students who contradict a "biblical lifestyle."

After Kahle cut her waist-length hair to donate it to a child with cancer, the school reportedly criticized her "boyish looks," saying that God had made her female, and she should dress and act as such.

"We believe that unless Sunnie and 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," Bowman wrote in the original letter, which was given to WDBJ-TV7 by Thompson.

Kahle's legal guardian, great-grandmother Doris Thompson, was deeply offended by the letter, and moved the girl into public school, saying that while Kahle was too young to understand sexual orientation or gender issues, "If my child grows up to be homosexual or transgendered, I will love her that much more."

In Timberlake's most recent letter, posted on their website via the right-wing legal group Liberty Counsel, Mat Staver, founder and chairman of the right-wing legal group Liberty Counsel notes that "The school looks forward to working with the family and moving forward to a positive resolution."

But Thompson may not be so eager to return Kahle to the school, especially in light of rumors reported on Huffington Post that parents from the school claimed Kahle had talked about getting a sex-change operation, and wanted to use the boys' bathroom. Thompson told WDBJ-TV that she doesn't believe these conversations ever happened, but noted that a group of boys reportedly tried to drag Kahle into the boys' bathroom earlier this year.

Timberlake's letter obliquely references this, noting that, "When elementary children and their parents or guardians express concerns regarding use of the restroom and other matters arising from the sensitive issues here, the School has a duty to address those concerns and to ensure that all interests are heard and protected in accordance with the Christian mission of the School."

Winnie McCroy is the Women on the EDGE Editor, HIV/Health Editor, and Assistant Entertainment Editor for EDGE Media Network, handling all women's news, HIV health stories and theater reviews throughout the U.S. She has contributed to other publications, including The Village Voice, Gay City News, Chelsea Now and The Advocate, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.


  • GAG'EM, 2014-04-03 23:38:47

    I think this is great. The girl will get a much better education at a school that isn’t run by idiots.

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