Yesterday, we noted that Liberty Counsel had come to the defense of a Virginia Christian school which had informed the family of an 8-year old female student not to re-enroll her next year unless she is "open to following the biblical standards" regarding her appearance and gender.
The girl's great-grandparents and legal guardians assert that she is being asked to leave the school because she is a tomboy with short hair, but yesterday the school released a statement through Liberty Counsel saying that the media reports about the issue have been false and misleading:
We are deeply dismayed over the inaccurate and public nature of this situation and the false and inaccurate reporting.
The Church and the School are limited in what can be related about this situation. With all due respect, the facts are not as S.K.'s great-grandparents have portrayed them. This matter is far beyond a simple ‘hairstyle and tomboy issue’ as inaccurately portrayed. It is not about that at all. At no time did the Church or the School state or imply that S.K. was sexually immoral or the like. Yet, reports like this have appeared in the media. The School has never told S.K. she cannot return to school.
The Church and the School have a responsibility to all students, their parents, and guardians. 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 because such conflict will confuse our students and frustrate the parents and guardians who have entrusted the education of their children to us. 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. While we welcome all students, parents and guardians are made aware of the School’s Christian mission and beliefs. We not only have a right, but we also have a duty to uphold these Christian standards.
We deeply regret that the great-grandparents either made inaccurate statements or were quoted out of context. This public discussion is not in the best interest of all concerned. S.K. has been attending our school for several years and we had looked forward to working with her and her great-grandparents privately.”
Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel, who has been asked to represent the school, commented: “The Book of Proverbs says that he who states his case first seems right until another comes forth to challenge him. I think that accurately describes the misinformation that was reported regarding Timberlake Christian School. The school looks forward to working with the family and moving forward to a positive resolution.”
We are actually sympathetic to Liberty Counsel on this point because we have seen this very sort of story play out in the opposite direction time and again, as Religious Right groups gin-up a one-sided controversy about supposed anti-Christian persecution and then spread it far and wide before school officials have even had a chance to correct the record.
But, in this case, media reports seem quite accurate, as they are based upon the letter the school sent home in which school officials informed the family that the young girl would not be welcome back if she did not begin to model proper "biblical standards" of gender:
There also have been several occasions when the other students, particularly those who do not know Sunnie personally, have been confused about whether she is a boy or girl, and at times, these occasions have been troubling to Sunnie. I also understand that Sunnie is being counseled professionally regarding her identify and image in order to steer her in a particular direction to handle these identity issues.
You’re probably aware that Timberlake Christian Schools is a religious, Bible-believing Institution providing education in a distinctly Christian environment, and we believe that our biblical role is to work in conjunction with the home to mold students to be Christlike, On those occasions in which the atmosphere or conduct within a particular home is counter to or in opposition to the biblical lifestyle that the school teaches, the school reserves the right, within its sole discretion, to refuse admission of an applicant or to discontinue enrollment of a student. 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 inability to support the moral principles of the school. We base this standard on Bible principles as found in Leviticus 20:13a; Romans 1:21-27; Matthew 19:4-6; and I Corinthians 6:9-20.
However, 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 ICS is not the best place for her future education. It seems that the school’s goals and biblical foundations are going to be in contradiction with the direction that Sunnie is heading at this point.
For this reason, we must ask that you not re-enroll Sunnie here at TCS unless you are open to following the biblical standards set forth above.