Christian school pressures 'tomboy' to transfer

Family told they have no grounds for a lawsuit because school is private
Associated Press
Mar 29, 2014

Eight-year-old Sunnie Kahle likes to keep her hair short, wear boys' clothes, collect hunting knives and shoot her BB gun.

"She's a pure, 100 percent tomboy," said her great-grandfather Carroll Thompson, who along with his wife Doris adopted their granddaughter's child.

But to Timberlake Christian School administrators, the second-grader's boyish ways warranted an ultimatum: Start acting like a girl or find another school.

The Thompsons found another school, but they didn't go quietly. After being told by lawyers that they have no grounds for a lawsuit because Timberlake is a private school, the Thompsons have gone public with their complaints.

"I don't see nothing Christian about it," 66-year-old Carroll Thompson said in an interview at the family's house just outside Lynchburg, home of Liberty University, the Christian school founded by the Rev. Jerry Falwell.

Doris Thompson, who's 69, said she was stunned when she received a letter last month saying the school can deny enrollment to applicants for condoning "sexual immorality," homosexuality or alternative gender identity.

Principal Becky Bowman wrote that "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."

Doris Thompson said Sunnie knows she is a girl and has never, to her knowledge, wished she were a boy.

Other disputes over gender expression at school have made headlines recently, including a demand, later rescinded, that a 9-year-old North Carolina boy cease carrying a My Little Pony backpack to school. But that case and others involved public schools rather than private religious academies that are not subject to anti-discrimination laws.

After a television news report about the Thompsons created a social media frenzy, the school retained the legal arm of Liberty University to tell its side. Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, said there is more to the situation than the Thompsons are saying.

"This is not at all about how she is dressing or she is going through a phase," Staver said in a telephone interview.

However, he said confidentiality laws prevented him from being more specific and school officials would rather not try to rebut the Thompsons' allegations. Earl Prince, an administrator at the school, also declined to discuss what prompted Bowman's letter.

Doris Thompson said she is unaware of anything, other than Sunnie's appearance and tomboy ways, that would prompt the school's action. She said Sunnie made good grades, was well-behaved and got along with the other children. New classmates would sometimes ask if she were a boy or a girl, but she would answer and that would be the end of it, Thompson said.

Bowman acknowledged in her letter that the school's position doesn't stem from Sunnie's grades or "general cooperation with school rules."

Staver said school officials were dismayed that the Thompsons chose not to resolve the issue with them privately. He said school officials would like to have Sunnie back.

"The school has never called the girl immoral, has never evicted her and is willing to work with her," Staver said. "She is a precious little girl."

This year, a girl mistook Sunnie for a boy in the girls' restroom and reported it to a teacher, and two boys tried to drag Sunnie into the boys' restroom. Sunnie said the boys got in trouble, but she did too "for yelling down the hallway."

Sunnie, eager to break away from an interview and ride her bike, said she liked Timberlake better than the public school she is now attending.

"I had a lot of friends there," she said of the school she attended since age 3.

Doris Thompson said Sunnie would grow her hair so she could return to Timberlake, but her husband said that's "out of the question."

Sunnie's troubles at Timberlake began in pre-kindergarten after she cut her hair to donate it to a program that provides wigs for cancer patients, Doris Thompson said. Around then, she started wanting boys' clothes.

"A teacher told me I was the parent and I needed to control her, and if she didn't obey I needed to take her in the bathroom and whip her butt," Thompson said.

Rather than just dismiss the teacher's concerns, she asked the family doctor for advice. "He said, 'Leave that child alone!'" she said.

Afterward, Thompson said the teacher told her: "You need to find a Christian doctor."


yea right

wow what narrow mindedness..and all for being a "tomboy" no better than westboro church..they all will burn for eternaty

Dr. Information

Pull it your bible and read, that's not how it works.


For several decades throughout the mid-20th century, the state of Virginia authorized compulsory sterilization of the mentally retarded for the purpose of eugenics. The operations were carried out at the Virginia State Colony for Epileptics and Feebleminded, now known as the Central Virginia Training School, located just outside Lynchburg in Madison Heights. An estimated 8,300 Virginians were sterilized and relocated to Lynchburg, known as a "dumping ground" of sorts for the feeble-minded, poor, blind, epilectic, and those otherwise seen as genetically "unfit".[11]
Sterilizations were carried out for 35 years until 1972, when operations were finally halted. Later in the late 1970s, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a class-action lawsuit against the state of Virginia on behalf of the sterilization victims. As a result of this suit, the victims received formal apologies and counseling if they chose. Requests to grant the victims reverse sterilization operations were denied.


I've been to Lynchburg.
The name says it all.
Piece of crap town for sure.
jerry fall will is one of the most evil charlatins to ever walk the face of planet earth!
The great grandparents should be locked up for life for sending a child to such a soul-draining school.
I went to katholeek school and it was an extremely messed up experience.


' two boys tried to drag Sunnie into the boys' restroom. Sunnie said the boys got in trouble, but she did too "for yelling down the hallway." '

I'd yell too, if I was being assaulted.

From the Grave

Why would you send your kid to a school like that in the first place.


I agree, From the Grave. One would think that a parochial school would teach a message of tolerance, instead of the exact opposite. Instead, school-sanctioned discrimination is the example they're setting. I am SO glad that my sons attended public schools.


Oh well, take them to court anyway and tie them up in legal procedures and run their legal costs up and up. You may not win but you got them paying out a lot of legal costs and not so great PR.


And if Virginia has a SLAPP statute, YOU would end up paying those legal fees. What is it about you that you feel the need to force everyone to do things your way?


Good job Timberlake!

Many godless liberal people and institutions are content to sit by and ignore the signs of a developing homosexual or gender identity disorder. Thankfully, there are still some who through love, are willing to provide proper guidance at this critical juncture in a young girls life.

Homosexual people want you to believe “We’re born this way, we CAN'T change.”

Transgender people want you to believe “The way we were born is wrong, so we HAVE to change.”

Our sexual preferences develop, evolve, and grow with us the same way our personalities and likes/dislikes evolve and grow with us.

Sexual desires develop at puberty, not birth.

Homosexuality is a state that a person degenerates into. (Romans 1:18-32).

Homosexuality is learned and can be unlearned, it simply is a choice. And no amount of ignorant hyperbole can change that fact.

For the misinformed ignorant hoard sure to follow: Whoever told you “Jesus is Love” was probably smoking dope. Yes, Jesus came the first time with love for lost mankind. He willingly gave His life that those who believe on Him might be saved and live a life pleasing to Him. The next time He comes, it will be to punish those that did not accept the free gift of His sacrifice and disobeyed his Word.

P.S. Probably wouldn’t hurt if someone would have a talk with her about all the cookies and ice cream too.


Nice to hear from an exspirt on this topic. Please reveal more!
Look out! jaysus is a comin'!

yea right

again a closed mined sister-in-law is a "tomboy"..but she is a girl all the way..even dates ..when you grow up maybe you can have an opinion..haha until then learn the "FACTS"


Putting aside the fact that this article has nothing to do with homosexuality. You are saying a 8 year old girl, who has not reached puberty yet is showing homosexual tendencies, but by your very comment that is when it starts and is learned. Not very sound logic. How can an 8 year old (and before since she started this before now) learn to be a homosexual if she hasn't reached that part of her life yet according to you? Clearly if this were the case she was born this way.

Regardless she wishes to dress this way, much the same way teenage girls sometimes make questionable clothing choices and boys wear painted on skinny jeans and pink shirts.

FYI: my mom, while she dresses like a female most days, there are times she is much more comfortable being a "tomboy". I have also been told she was a tomboy in her youth. Explain that one to me.

The Big Dog's back

"Homosexuality is learned and can be unlearned, it simply is a choice. And no amount of ignorant hyperbole can change that fact."

Are you a recovering homosexual neverthinks?


ThinkAgain, it is ye who are misinformed and ignorant. Much has been learned about homosexuality over the past 30+ years, yet you still believe all the pre-1980 information that his since been completely disproven. Nearly every sentence in your lengthy post contains incorrect, debunked info.


The Rev. A-hole has spoken again!Hope you meet your maker sooner than later.

seriously 1137

Wtf is wrong with you Thinkagain? I can't believe people like you can follow Jesus and spew such hateful close minded bs!!!!!


Way to go Thinkagain , You've already condemned this child without knowing anything about the situation . These people were by all rights Christians and trying to live by your values . Just like Phelps , you further the cause in the opposite direction you want . Oh yeah , And Jesus walked around in a dress , had long hair , and hung out with nothing ,but dudes . Guess he would have needed a talking to if he went to that school as well . ; ))))


Don’t make me open up my can of spinach and go all Popeye on ya. ;)

Pterocarya frax...

We would rather see you open your mind and go all christian like.


And the score is, Open-minded Pterocarya: 1 Closed-minded ThinkAgain: 0


Bring it on dumb a-s.

UK seem to know it all!!! And by all I mean NOTHING. People like you are what is wrong with the world today. Simple as that. You judgmental, my way or the highway attitude. You don't even deserve a decade because you are not worth it. :) TOOTLES!.


P.s. I love your comment Bluto!

The Big Dog's back

Very "Christian" of this school.


Indeed it is. Well said!

The Big Dog's back

Reagan opened Pandora's Box when he gave these religious wackos a voice back in the 80's. Thanks ronny.


Why is it that supposed Christian Schools are often the least-Christian-like places where a child can be educated? I guess it's because Christians are often the least Christ-like among us. If I want to look for an example of moral behavior, churches and church schools are the last place I would look.

When the Bible is used as an excuse for discrimination, there is no way to morally justify that.


Why is it those who condemn Christianity also presume to define it?

They have their beliefs, and you have yours. Leave it at that and live your life.


My mom was all woman and there was nothing male about her but due to an injury at the back of her head she had to wear her hair short or she had horrible headaches that would almost incapacitate her at times. We knew her hair was getting to long when the headaches would start and we would take her and get her hair cut and they would stop immediately. She also wore pants all the times because of the severe arthritis in her legs and felt that pants gave kept her legs warmer and that in turn eased her pain. My mom also love God and there was never a more God fearing Christian woman than her. Again there was NOTHING male about my mom - from the day she was born till the day she died! I'm embarrassed by what this school has done. This child did what in my mind was a very Christ like act - gave selflessly to others by cutting her hair so that others that don't have can have some. What they did to this child was punish her instead of award her for her act of kindness. If I had a child in this school - or had a relative with a child in this school - they wouldn't be in there for long!!!!!