Let us simply call it by its name—
Sports, sneakers, and short hair; it’s what makes eight year old Sunnie Kahle unique. It’s also what had her removed from Timberlake Christian School. Her grandparents pulled the plug on her time there after they said she was no longer welcome.
The family received a letter telling them that if their eight year old granddaughter didn’t follow the school’s “biblical standards,” that she’d be refused enrollment next year. She’s out and in public school now.
Sunnie Kahle has short hair and a huge heart, and as far as her grandparents are concerned, she is a completely normal little girl.
“She cries every morning to get on the bus, she cries when she comes home because she wants to go back to Timberlake Christian with her friends,” said Doris Thompson.
Doris and Carroll Thompson are Sunnie’s grandparents. They adopted and raised the little girl and took her out of Timberlake Christian School when they received a letter from the school’s K-8 Principal.
“You’re probably aware that Timberlake Christian School is a religious, Bible believing institution providing education in a distinctly Christian environment,” read Doris from a part of the letter.
The letter goes on to say that students have been confused about whether Sunnie is a boy or girl and specifies that administrators can refuse enrollment for condoning sexual immorality, practicing a homosexual lifestyle or alternative gender identity.
The letter goes on to reference specific Bible verses that affirm these beliefs.
The letter reads in part, “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 inimitable Clive Barker reminds that nothing ever begins, and thus the advent of any tale is arbitrary. This axiom works well enough; pick a place to start.
James Gherardi notes, in his report for WSET, that, “School administrators said they have not accused Sunnie of being anything or anyone”, which ought to be a comfort to nobody at all. As one who has attended the Gay Fray for over twenty years, it is at once evident both that we cannot allow singular examples to set general definitions and also the neurotic complex is a nest of diverse threads so knotted and tangled that it verges on catastrophic failure.
One really does wonder where to start.
There is so much here, so flip a coin; I always call tails, so let us start there.
Over the last twenty-three years, ever since a group of Christian zealots in Oregon asked me to consider the idea of “gay rights”, we have witnessed a self-defeating slapstick of the sort Mack Sennett would not have filmed only because the morbid comedy could not be adequately shoehorned into a reasonable number of reels. On this occasion, we might recall the question of homosexuals who also happen to be parents, or parents who happen to be homosexuals. Whichever. Remember, it’s not good for the kids. Or so they said. You know, because others might make fun of them. And children shouldn’t have to wrangle with questions of sexuality; it’s indecent and unfair.
Naturally, Timberlake Christian managed to wrangle both those points into their consideration. To the one, students are apparently (ahem!) “confused” about whether Sunnie is a boy or girl, which sounds suspiciously like the longtime schoolyard protection of bullies. After all, the kids are only “confused” because, well, Sunnie doesn’t dress and act like a girl. Either they aren’t really confused, or the sexual roles of boys and girls are already deeply enough ingrained in the youngsters to cause them this sort of trouble. Either way, accommodating the “confusion” as such only protects cruelty delivered unto the younger generation by those that have preceded it.
To the other, there is the question of why a female must look girlish or womanly or otherwise not manly. Yes, the subroutine is that apparent. That is, we all see how this works, right?
And then, to the beeblebrox, there is this confounded question of why it’s important to know that the school didn’t accuse Sunnie of being anyone or anything. Show of hands, is there anyone who doesn’t understand the implication? Obviously, the question is inevitable; one can easily imagine that the context of evil lesbian versus good virtuous girlish womanly obedient heterosexual wife arises in some of the correspondence and inquiry the school is receiving at this time.
But it all comes back to sexcrafting. Grooming. Train up the child in the way she should go. Proverbs. Old faith. Trying to twist into form a young conscience so that she grows into a properly obedient wife. She must look and carry herself a certain way, or else other people who expect her to look and carry herself as such might get “confused” if she doesn’t. This is an asserted Christian virtue at Timberlake.
Perhaps most frightening is that Timberlake Christian is not alone in its odd mix of faith, sexuality, and children.
If the preceding sentence … er … right. Yeah. Anyway, it’s just not a moment in the life of any child we might wish to imagine; suffer the little children, indeed, but what incredible stones, and from such unbelievable hands. Sunnie Kahle should damn well keep her chin up, and lead with that smile. It is not a fair burden to ask her to carry, but Timberlake Christian wanted to make a point. And they have. So maybe it is time for an intervention. You know, in the American family. Maybe it is time to sit our Christian neighbors down and try to explain to them the functional problems with their seemingly pathological need to own children’s sex lives. Come on, can we just say we owe it to Sunnie, or something? This is as blatant a sign of neurotic rupture as we can hope never to see again. These people who abide by so perverse an ownership culture need help. Let there be no question: Sexual grooming of children is not simply creepy, it is also very, very harmful.
And it needs to stop.
Gherardi, James. “Little Girl Taken Out Of Christian School After Told She’s Too Much Like A Boy”. WSET. March 24, 2014. WSET.com. March 25, 2014.
Barker, Clive. Weaveworld. New York: Poseidon, 1987.
Photo via WSET.