On Friday, I mentioned the story of Sunnie Kahle, an eight-year-old girl from Lynchburg, Virginia who was essentially drummed out of Timberlake Christian School near Lynchburg because she looks too much like a boy. It turns out there may be a new and disturbing dimension to this story--disturbing enough to merit a repost from Saturday.
Fellow Kossack Frisbee mentioned in the comments of Friday's diary that Sunnie and her great-grandmother/legal guardian, Doris Thompson, were getting slammed up and down in the comments section of a story in the Roanoke Times about this affair. It turns out that story was reprinted from Thursday's edition of Sunnie and Thompson's local paper, The (Lynchburg) News & Advance. It turns out that Sunnie may have been the victim of bullying because of her appearance.
Thompson said during the first semester of second grade, some boys tried to pull Sunnie into a boys’ bathroom at the school. That incident, Thompson said, brought concerns from the school about Sunnie’s gender expression and appearance to the forefront again.I hope I'm reading this wrong. I really am. In just about any public or private school that doesn't have its head up its collective rear end, those boys would have been hauled into the principal's office. I'm seeing one of two things happening here--neither of which allow TCS to look good at all. Either it essentially punished Sunnie for being the victim of what any fair-minded person would consider bullying, or they chose to punish both Sunnie and the punks who tried to drag her into the boys' room. Either way, for Sunnie to have been punished at all is an outrage.
A couple months later, the letter arrived.
This is even more disturbing when you consider that TCS is now maintaining that this dispute boiled over because Sunnie wanted to use the boys' bathroom. At least, that's the line it's putting out in a press release issued through Liberty Counsel (based just a few miles from TCS), which is now representing the school. If this is the bathroom incident referenced here, then the most benign interpretation is that Mat Staver and Matt Barber didn't do any sort of due diligence before agreeing to be retained by this school. After all, does Liberty Counsel really want to look like it's condoning bullying?
TCS is an outreach of Timberlake Baptist Church, an independent fundie Baptist church in Lynchburg. I didn't expect a whole lot from them--after all, if you'll remember two years ago, Sean Harris, the North Carolina IFB pastor who famously suggested that parents ought to beat the gay out of their kids, has a private school attached to his church. But one would think that even TCS would have some standards. Homophobia is bad enough. But either condoning homophobia-infused bullying, or choosing to punish both the victim and the victimizers, is even worse.