Sunnie Kahle, 8, has been moved from Virginia's Timberlake Christian School by her family after administrators sent a letter home complaining that Kahle's looks and behavior were too boyish.
"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," part of principal Becky Bowman's letter read, according to Roanoke's WDBJ 7
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Kahle's great-grandparents, Doris and Carroll Thompson, who raised Kahle, were shocked to receive the letter. They say they're a Christian family and, despite her short hair, Kahle identifies as a girl.
"Sunnie realizes she's a female, but she wants to do boy things," said Doris Thompson, "She wants to play rough and tough."
In an interview with WDBJ, Kahle showed off her coin and knife collections, sports knowledge, and tomboy sneakers, all of which the little girl is quite proud of.
When Kahle was just 5 years old, she wanted to cut her hair short.
"She had hair down to her waist and she wanted to give it to a child with cancer. 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," Thompson said.
After a while, Kahle's appearance became confusing to a few kids at school. They asked her whether she was a boy or a girl, to which she responded, "Girl." When asked if the other kids' questions hurt her feelings, Kahle calmly replied, "No."
Kahle said she just wishes things could have turned out differently, telling reporters, "I should just be able to be me."
After Kahle's story was picked up by several national media outlets, Timberlake Christian School released a statement.
"We are heart-broken that Sunnie’s grandparents have made her the subject of a public discussion," the statement read.
Administrators say there is more to the story, but they are not allowed to comment further because of confidentiality issues related to a minor.
"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," the statement continued. "Our documentation shows a significantly different narrative than the one portrayed in the original news report."
Thompson responded that Kahle has never had any behavioral issues and was a straight-A student. She did acknowledge that Kahle has expressed a desire to wear boy's pants as part of her school uniform, and perhaps it caused the school to write the letter.
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