An eight-year-old girl named Sunnie Kahle was recently informed that she was no longer welcome at a Baptist elementary school in Virginia via a letter that informed her grandparents (who are her guardians) that her gender nonconformity is out of line with God's plan. One particularly scintillating excerpt reads, "God has made her female and her dress and behavior need to follow suit with her God-ordained identity."
Let's leave aside, for the moment, the possibility that Sunnie is trans*. Let's assume (as her interviews seem to suggest) that she sees herself as female. This means the school administrators at Timberlake Christian have taken it upon themselves to decide what female "dress and behavior" look like. Unless the exactitudes of gendered fashion are spelled out in the Bible (and I don't remember reading that--do you?), this argument is absurd even on its own terms. God has "ordained" that this kid has to wear the kinds of clothing and play with the kind of toys that the execs at Disney and Walmart have decided is most effectively marketed toward her gender? Got it.
As a former little girl who was occasionally mistaken for a little boy, I know first-hand that it's not always fun. Kids have hundreds of ways, subtle and not, to single out their norm-defying peers. Expressing gender nonconformity, especially as a kid, is hard. Sunnie Kahle should be lauded for using her God-given guts, not bullied by her school's administration for not fitting into their idea of what girls are "supposed" to be.
I'm glad Sunnie has loving grandparents who stand by her just the way she is. If all kids were so lucky, I bet teen suicide rate would be a lot lower. In one interview, Sunnie's grandmother said that if Sunnie grows up to be a member of the LGBTQ crowd, she will "love her that much more." Unconditional love, total acceptance... sounds awfully Biblical. Maybe Timberlake Christian should take a page from grandma's playbook.
Unfortunately, it does say in Deuteronomy (basically, I'm paraphrasing) that you can't cross-dress. That's why certain Christian denominations (think the Duggars, for instance) and Orthodox Jews mandate women only wear skirts. That being said, there is *a lot* of stuff in Deuteronomy that this church probably isn't sticking to and what they did was definitely wrong. It's one thing if they have a dress code and it's a matter of switching schools to avoid the dress code (and don't get me started on how I think dress codes are bullcrap anyway), but it seems like basically the school was targeting this kid and that is not OK.
3/26/2014 02:52:30 am
Pretty sure Deuteronomy is in the Old Testament.
3/26/2014 02:57:48 am
Even if there is a dress code, it should include a pants-option for all genders. When I read this article yesterday, I was both angered by the school for enforcing gender stereotypes on an 8 year old, and impressed by the grandparents for standing by their short-haired girl-identified grandchild.
3/26/2014 03:30:00 am
Actually, it looks like the handbook *does* include a pants option. I'm running off to work now, but here's a link to the school's actual handbook if you want to check it out: http://tinyurl.com/mj2vno3
3/26/2014 05:55:50 am
The kids at my school were not nice people, but the adults were 10 X worse. I had just been moved to a catholic elementary. One parent called me a bastard abomination. I was 10, and had been invited over to play. She sent me home. I'd like to say it was just her, but they were all evil. I just feel sad for them...40 + yrs they've given 20% of their income to the church...so they could be members, dummies.:)~
12/27/2022 12:20:29 pm
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