The family of an eight-year-old girl in Lynchburg, Va. has withdrawn her from a Christian school after administrators told her she wasn't feminine enough.
Sunnie Kahle enjoys what are traditionally considered "boy hobbies" as well as "girl hobbies", reports CBS affiliate WDBJ. She collects coins, hunting knives and baseballs along with stuffed animals and colorful bracelets.
"Sunnie realizes she's a female, but she wants to do boy things," Doris Thompson, Kahle's great-grandmother and legal guardian told WDBJ. "She wants to play rough and tough."
When Kahle turned five, she asked for a short haircut. "She had hair down to her waist and she wanted to give it to a child with cancer," said Thompson. "After we cut her hair she started wanting to wear jeans and a t-shirt. She didn't want to wear her frilly dresses anymore." Classmates began to ask Kahle if she was a boy or a girl, and Kahle says she responded to questions politely and was not offended by them.
But the question did bother her school's administration. Becky Bowman, principal of the Timberlake Christian School, sent Kahle home with a letter in February reminding Thompson that the school had religious affiliations and maintained the right to refuse a student who didn't live a "biblical lifestyle."
"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 letter, which was given to WDBJ7 by Thompson.
Thompson was offended by the letter. She argues that Kahle is a tomboy and that she's too young to understand questions of sexual orientation. "To claim that we are condoning sexual immorality in our home is nonsense," Thompson said. "We are Christians. We understand the Bible. Sunnie knows it very well. She has accepted Christ...If my child grows up to be homosexual or transgendered, I will love her that much more."
Thompson removed Kahle from the school and placed her in public school instead. Timberlake Christian School responded to original reports about Kahle's relocation in a statement on Tuesday afternoon:
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. You can be assured that we have cared for Sunnie and worked with her grandparents for several years to assist them. Our TCS teachers and administrators love Sunnie and we can assure everyone that this has never been an issue of hair length or boots as it has been portrayed. It has been our constant desire over the last several years to work with this family and to shepherd this precious little girl in a way consistent with traditional values.
Image: Baby is born Boy or girl? via Shutterstock