(Photo: Screen Grab via CBS 12)
A Christian legal group has released a statement on behalf of a Christian school in Virginia regarding claims that one of its female students was condemned for dressing like a boy and sporting a short haircut. The school argues that the situation is "far beyond a simple" issue regarding the student's dress or haircut.
Liberty Counsel, a Christian nonprofit legal group, released a statement Wednesday of behalf of Timberlake Christian School located in Forest, Va., saying that the claims made by Doris and Carroll Thompson to a local media station regarding their great-granddaughter, Sunnie Kahle, were either "inaccurate … or were quoted out of context."
The great-grandparents previously told WSET-TV that they received a letter from the school saying their granddaughter didn't follow the school's "biblical standards" because she dressed like a boy and wore her hair short. Sunnie's story has gained national media coverage since it broke Tuesday.
Liberty Counsel began its statement by clarifying that Timberlake Christian School is a ministry of the Timberlake Baptist Church, and both institutions "believe in the authority of the Holy Scriptures as the Word of God as an infallible guide for our lives." It then went on to discuss Sunnie, described as "S.K." 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."
Although the legal group said it must keep private several details of Sunnie's situation, it said it can clarify that "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."
It added, "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." Liberty Counsel concluded by saying that the school looks forward to reaching a positive solution with Sunnie and her guardians.
Carroll and Doris Thompson told WSET-TV earlier this week that they were forced to pull Sunnie, 8, from Timberlake Christian School after receiving a letter from school administrators threatening that their great-granddaughter would not be offered re-enrollment next year if she didn't start dressing and acting like a girl.
Doris told WSET-TV that the letter sent by Timberlake Christian School said that school administrators may refuse enrollment to students if they practice sexual immorality, a homosexual lifestyle or an alternate gender identity.
"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 sent to Doris and Carroll reportedly read, according to WSET-TV.
Sunnie's great-grandparents have said that although their child wants to return to her friends and teachers at Timberlake Christian School, they refuse to re-enroll her after their experience.