Timberlake Christian Schools near Lynchburg, Virginia, sent the following letter to the great grandparents of young Sunnie Kahle, a young girl best described as a tomboy:
In case it’s difficult to read, here is much of the text of the letter:
There also have been several occasions when the other students, particularly those who do not know Sunnie personally, have been confused about whether she is a boy or girl, and at times, these occasions have been troubling to Sunnie. I also understand that Sunnie is being counseled professionally regarding her identify and image in order to steer her in a particular direction to handle these identity issues.
You’re probably aware that Timberlake Christian Schools is a religious, Bible-believing Institution providing education in a distinctly Christian environment, and we believe that our biblical role is to work in conjunction with the home to mold students to be Christlike, On those occasions in which the atmosphere or conduct within a particular home is counter to or in opposition to the biblical lifestyle that the school teaches, the school reserves the right, within its sole discretion, to refuse admission of an applicant or to discontinue enrollment of a student. This includes, but is not necessarily limited to, living in, condoning or supporting 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. We base this standard on Bible principles as found in Leviticus 20:13a; Romans 1:21-27; Matthew 19:4-6; and I Corinthians 6:9-20.
However, 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 ICS is not the best place for her future education. It seems that the school’s goals and biblical foundations are going to be in contradiction with the direction that Sunnie is heading at this point.
For this reason, we must ask that you not re-enroll Sunnie here at TCS unless you are open to following the biblical standards set forth above.
Here is a television report about the incident:
Between the letter and the news report, it should be clear that the school is discriminating against Sunnie because they don’t feel she is traditionally feminine enough to be a part of their rigid, conservative Christian environment. I wanted to post them, though, because the school is now claiming that their issues with Sunnie are far deeper than that, and the Liberty Counsel hate group has stepped up to defend the school against any charges of wrongdoing, releasing the following statement:
Lynchburg, VA – Liberty Counsel has been asked to represent Timberlake Christian Schools and to correct the record regarding allegations made about Timberlake Christian Schools and an eight-year-old girl by her great-grandparents and reported by a WSET news station. The statement below is from the School.
“Timberlake Christian Schools (School) is a ministry of Timberlake Baptist Church (Church). The Church and the School believe in the authority of the Holy Scriptures as the Word of God as an infallible guide for our lives. Our mission is to share the good news that Jesus Christ died to pay the penalty for our sins. He rose again and offers eternal life to all who will accept him as Lord and Savior.
The School is an extension of the Church. Our mission is to provide an excellent education and to nurture boys and girls in the knowledge of Jesus Christ so that they too can have a personal relationship with him. It pains us to see inaccurate information reported in the media regarding one of our young students, whom we will refer to as ‘S.K.’ in order to protect her privacy. The faculty and staff of the School love S.K. and want what is best for her as a person created in the image of God. We are deeply dismayed over the inaccurate and public nature of this situation and the false and inaccurate reporting.
The Church and the School are limited in what can be related about this situation. With all due respect, the facts are not as S.K.’s great-grandparents have portrayed them. This matter is far beyond a simple ‘hairstyle and tomboy issue’ as inaccurately portrayed. 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. Yet, reports like this have appeared in the media. The School has never told S.K. she cannot return to school.
The Church and the School have a responsibility to all students, their parents, and guardians. Parents and guardians send their children to the School because of our Christian beliefs and standards. We have a duty to create an environment that is supportive of these Christian values. We cannot have conflicting messages or standards because such conflict will confuse our students and frustrate the parents and guardians who have entrusted the education of their children to us. 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. While we welcome all students, parents and guardians are made aware of the School’s Christian mission and beliefs. We not only have a right, but we also have a duty to uphold these Christian standards.
We deeply regret that the great-grandparents either made inaccurate statements or were quoted out of context. This public discussion is not in the best interest of all concerned. S.K. has been attending our school for several years and we had looked forward to working with her and her great-grandparents privately.”
Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel, who has been asked to represent the school, commented: “The Book of Proverbs says that he who states his case first seems right until another comes forth to challenge him. I think that accurately describes the misinformation that was reported regarding Timberlake Christian School. The school looks forward to working with the family and moving forward to a positive resolution.”
So, you can either believe Sunnie’s grandparents and your lying eyes as you read the letter above, or you can believe Liberty Counsel. Considering Liberty’s track record with honesty and status as an anti-gay hate group, at this point I’m inclined to believe Sunnie’s family.
What’s so cruel about this situation is that Sunnie seems to be a perfectly nice kid with no other behavioral or academic problems. And, to be clear, lots of little girls are tomboys. A few of them end up coming out as trans, but the great majority are not. So, if these allegations are true, what we have here is a Christian school that’s bullying an innocent little girl simply because she doesn’t fit in their little box of ideas about what little girls are supposed to look like. How sick that they’re willing to risk doing real damage to this kid, simply because they’re so threatened by people who are different from them.
Then again, these are the same types of people who were willing to stop sponsoring impoverished World Vision children because some relief worker somewhere might have a husband he goes home to every night. For them, ideology trumps all, even the welfare of kids.