Lynchburg Girl Begins 3rd Grade, Great-Grandparents Worry "Personality Changed" After TCS Issue
Lynchburg, VA - Just another day after school for Sunnie Kahle.
It's the start of her second week at Tomahawk Elementary School and before she thinks of homework, she wants to play outside with friends.
"She will tell you 'I know I'm a girl, but I don't want to play with dolls.' She wants to fish," the girl's great-grandmother Doris Thompson said.
Her great-grandparents say the transition to her new school is going well and an outpouring of support from the community has helped: letters and presents along the way.
"I couldn't ask for a family to take her in like [Tomahawk] did," said Doris Thompson.
Sunnie's great-grandfather Carroll Thompson tells ABC 13 News that he took her to school Monday morning and ran into the school staff as he dropped her off.
"Her principal said 'hi Sunnie' and her teacher said 'hi Sunnie' because she missed the school bus," said Carroll Thompson. "Everybody in school knows her."
But not everything is running smoothly.
"Her personality has changed," said Doris Thompson. "She's just a different child. Entirely different child."
In late March, when our story first aired, a Timberlake Christian School administrator called Sunnie a "good student" but that "things disturbed the classroom environment." Then the school sent a letter home to parents after threats were directed towards the school.
"It would be impossible to watch this story and not feel anger towards TCS if the school had expelled the child because of a haircut or tomboy appearance," read the letter in part. "But nothing could be further from the truth. There are real biblical issues at stake in this situation on which we had to act."
Sunnie Kahle says she sometimes sees her friends from Timberlake. When asked if she's making new friends over at Tomahawk, the third-grader said one word: Mhmm.
Doris Thompson says Sunnie is seeing a counselor for anger and stress-related problems. She fears her great-grandchild has developed separation anxiety because of her abrupt end at her school last spring.
"It was like family to her and then you get a registered letter in the mail and don't re-enroll this child, because [the school referred to her as a] homosexual and you're condoning it and I can't get over it," said Doris Thompson. "I still can't get over it."
The Thompsons say Sunnie's grades are still high. But her great-grandparents are still worried about her well-being. They are considering hiring a lawyer and filing a lawsuit against TCS.