An eight-year-old child has been pulled out of a Christian school after being told she is too much like a boy and needs to understand that 'God made her female'.
The child was taken out of school by her grandparents after they received a letter from the principal informing them that Sunnie Kahle’s appearance did not meet the school’s required biblical standards, because she was not feminine enough.
Sunnie has short hair and wears jeans and t-shirts to school, her grandmother Doris Thompson told The Associated Press, and enjoys playing sports.
Ms Thompson said she was left “stunned” when the Timberlake Christian School in Lynchburg, Virginia, contacted her to request that her grandaughter behave more in a manner they considered to be more female - or consider transferring to another institution.
“You're probably aware that Timberlake Christian School is a religious, Bible believing institution providing education in a distinctly Christian environment," the letter from Principal Becky Bowman read.
"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 advised that the school can deny enrolment based on applicants they consider to be condoning "sexual immorality," homosexuality or alternative gender identity.
It also advised that Sunnie’s class mates were feeling confused about her gender.
“Sunnie realises she’s a female, but she wants to do boy things,” Ms Thompson told WDBJ. “She wants to play rough and tough.”
After being told by lawyers they have no grounds for a lawsuit because Timberlake is a private school, the Thompsons decided to speak publicly about the issue.
Issues over Sunnie's appearance initially began in pre-kindergarten after she cut her hair to donate it to a program that provides wigs for cancer patients, Ms Thompson said. Shortly after, she started wanting to wear clothes more stereotypically associated with boys, such as trainers.
The school released a statement after Ms Thompson went public with the letter and denied evicting Sunnie from school, but refused to comment directly on the allegations.
“We are heart-broken that Sunnie’s grandparents have made her the subject of a public discussion," it said.
“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.”
“The school has never called the girl immoral, has never evicted her and is willing to work with her,” a spokesperson added. “She is a precious little girl.”