Apr 8, 2014

Being Unique is Not a Crime

 A little over a week ago, eight year-old Sunnie Kahle was expelled from Timberlake Christian School in Lynchburg, Virginia. I thought it was odd for an eight year-old to be expelled from school in the first place, but Sunnie wasn't expelled for beating up another kid or cursing at a teacher. She was expelled for having short hair and being too masculine. She was told that she needed to understand that “God made her female.” Her grandparents received a letter from the school informing them that Sunnie’s appearance wasn't feminine enough and didn't meet the school’s biblical standards. Her grandparents promptly enrolled her in public school. The letter also said, "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 school’s argument is, in my opinion, ridiculous. I attended Catholic school until
the end of second grade and I never was chastised for having short hair and playing with the other boys in my grade. It seems that people need to put labels on things, no matter the situation. Twelve years ago, this would not have happened to her. Kids are being punished for being kids, on top of being punished for being individuals. I feel that the worst part of this is the fact that Sunnie is comfortable in her own skin but the adults that were in her everyday life aren't comfortable with her. I identify with Sunnie, and I hate that she’s being punished because she doesn't fit expectations from 2,000 years ago. The principal should take a look outside at the real world. She might notice that there are girls with short hair and wearing jeans and t-shirts that aren't a threat to society.

      Something in our society needs to be fixed, because Sunnie isn't the only one being chastised for not being exactly like their classmates. Nine year-old Grayson Bruce also made national news when his school had forbidden him from bringing his My Little Pony backpack to school. The school officials even went as far to say that it was a “trigger for bullying” and that he brought it on himself. As of March 20th, Grayson was allowed to once again bring his My Little Pony backpack back to school. I’m not exactly sure at what point the adults in these situations went wrong, but they need to realize that they’re correcting the wrong behaviors. We need to show that it’s okay to be different and okay to be yourself, and that it’s not okay to bully someone because they’re different. Sunnie realizes that she’s a female, but she likes her hair short and prefers to play with toys that are “for boys” rather than the toys that are “for girls.”

      Why do we care so much about pushing kids into something that they’re not meant to be, and sometimes doing that by bullying them into submission? When did being different become a bad thing? As adults, we need to learn from these children that are confident in themselves and know what they’re doing and let them live their lives and only intervene if what they’re doing is legitimately bad for them. We’re all who we are because we had the freedom to do so. Why take that away from the current and future generations?
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