A news story has been circulating recently about an 8 year old girl names Sunnie, who was recently ousted from her Christian school in Virginia because she wasn’t feminine enough. The news has been pretty consistent about the facts: the Thompsons, Sunnie’s great-grandparents and guardians, received a letter stating that they should help her to dress and act more femininely, or consider another option for her education. The letter included a paragraph about the school’s rights to refuse readmission if the student’s home is not in line with ‘the biblical lifestyle that the school teaches.’
This includes, but is not necessarily limited to, living in, condoning or supporting sexual immorality; practicing homosexual lifestyle or alternative gender identity; promoting such practices; or otherwise having the ability to support the moral principles of the school.
So they are not shy about the fact that they will discriminate based on sexuality and gender identity. That’s not really shocking. What is so shocking to me is that this girl is 8. She is 8 years old.
Kids are not supposed to act like adults. Their gender identity and sexuality are not mature, they are not fully formed (and really, we are all evolving forever but that’s another issue for another day.) To say that she is somehow ‘practicing a homosexual lifestyle’ or ‘alternative gender identity’ is freakin ridiculous. She is a kid. An 8 year old kid who wanted to cut off her hair (and donate it to a cancer patient, speaking of CHRISTIAN VALUES) and wear pants. The school went on to say,
Parents and guardians send their children to the School because of our Christian beliefs and standards. We have a duty to create an environment that is supportive of these Christian values. We cannot have conflicting messages or standards… 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.
That is total horse shit. People are so afraid of this crap that is escalates into madness. All you have to say is ‘some little girls have short hair, and Sunnie likes to keep her hair short.’ That’s about all the explanation that a kid requires. And if kids start to bully her, which had indeed started, then you need to sit down those bullies and let them know that their behavior is unacceptable, and that just because someone looks different or likes different kinds of things doesn’t mean you can torment them. Right? Like, being mean to someone is wrong, right? And we should be teaching kids compassion especially in light of the fact that your school claims to espouse Christian values which from what I remember include ‘Love thy neighbor.’
This is the same line of crap thinking that occurs when folks get outraged over seeing drag queens in the Macy’s day parade or 2 dudes holding hands and they ask “What am I supposed to tell my children?!” I’ll let Louis field that question.
New flash: It is a big bright beautiful world out there. There are lots of different kinds of folks. If you can’t explain simply to your kids that these differences exist, but that everyone deserves love and compassion no matter what, well that’s your own fucking issue. Grow up. The fact that we ostracize those who are different, instead of the bullies, is shameful. And everyone involved in this situation should be ashamed of themselves.
Kids are weird, thats just par for the course. I liked to wear tutus everywhere and also thought I could talk to aliens, and then for awhile I hated pink and refused to wear skirts except to church. I wasn’t crazy, disturbed, or experimenting with my gender identity. I was being a kid.
I hope that Sunnie is doing alright in her new school. Hopefully the ADULTS around her can support her choices and her expression, and let other kids know that she is just another person trying to be themselves. School should be a place where all kids feel safe to be kids. The grown ups need to get it together and start acting like they deserve the authority and trust of their students. And those folks at the Christian school need a refresher on the values they claim to be protecting.