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04/19/2007


Anti-Gay Liberty Counsel Defends Virginia School That Rejected Girl for Not Being Girly Enough

The anti-gay Christian law firm the Liberty Counsel has begun defending the Timberlake Christian School in Virginia that recently barred an 8-year-old girl from re-enrolling because of her “alternative gender identity” (meaning her short hair and love of sports).

Mat_staverOn Wednesday, Liberty Counsel founder Mat Staver (pictured), issued a statement on behalf of the school which said:

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 [the student, Sunnie Kahle’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…

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.

Right Wing Watch correctly points out however that the media reports have accurately reported the story as most have them have simply reprinted the letter that the school issued to Kahle’s adoptive great grandparents verbatim. While the letter did not forbid Kahle from attending school during the current academic year, it did say “we (the school) must ask that you not re-enroll Sunnie here at TCS [unless she adheres to our sexist expectations].”

KahleAnother report from The Roanoke Times explains the difficulties that Kahle has experienced at the Timberlake Christian School as well as the qualities that make her and her adoptive great grandparents so wonderful:

That same year [that Kahle began Pre-K at TCS], Sunnie decided she wanted to wear boy-style clothing and cut her hair short. She gave the extra hair away to a child with cancer.

Thompson (Kahle’s adoptive great grandmother) said the girl’s pre-K teacher raised questions and concerns with her about Sunnie’s gender identity and behavior, so Thompson sought an outside opinion.

“I took her to the doctor and I asked the doctor and he said, ‘Leave that child alone,'” Thompson explained.

She said she feels confident about her choice to not try to push Sunnie to be more feminine and to let her make decisions for herself.

Thompson said Sunnie, who now attends public school in Campbell County, goes to counseling and gets professional help for mood swings, but that counseling is not specifically targeted at discussing gender identity.

When a fellow kindergarten girl mistook Kahle for a boy in the girls’ bathroom and again in second grade when some boys tried to pull Kahle into a boys’ bathroom.

Similar to the Texas school that forbade a bullied student from wearing a My Little Pony backpack, it seems that the Timberlake Christian School wants Kahle to change her behavior to help placate her bullying peers.


Virginia Christian School Rejects Student For Not Acting Girly Enough: VIDEO

Sunnie_kahle

Timberlake Christian School in Virginia has refused to re-enroll an eight-year-old girl named Sunnie Kahle because “students have been confused about whether Kahle is a boy or girl,” and “administrators can refuse enrollment for [any family] condoning sexual immorality, practicing a homosexual lifestyle or alternative gender identity.”

In other words, they’re rejecting Kahle because she’s not girly enough. Kahle doesn’t identify as a boy and otherwise the school reports that she’s a good student. They just want her to conform to what their sexist preconception of how a little girl should act.

Here’s more from the school’s letter to her adoptive grandparents:

"You're probably aware that Timberlake Christian School is a religious, Bible believing institution providing education in a distinctly Christian environment… 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 letter goes on to cites Bible verses that affirm the school's antiquated sex typing.

Kahle’s grandparents have taken her out of TCS and placed her in public school instead. Even though she is reportedly heartbroken at not being able to attend TCS with her friends, they have no interest in matriculating her back into TCS next year.

Watch WSET's report, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Virginia Christian School Rejects Student For Not Acting Girly Enough: VIDEO" »


Federal Appeals Court Grants ACLU and Lambda Motion to Intervene in Virginia Marriage Case

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has granted a motion filed by the ACLU and Lambda Legal to intervene in Bostic v. Rainey, the court challenge to Virginia's gay marriage ban being led by lawyers Ted Olson and David Boies for the American Foundation for Equal Rights.

BosticPlaintiffs were not happy about the motion when it was filed in February. Said Matthew D. McGill, co-counsel for the plaintiffs to the Washington Blade:

“The addition of new parties to the case at this late stage risks delaying the proceedings, and there is not a moment to lose when gay and lesbian couples and families across Virginia – and other states in the Fourth Circuit – are experiencing real harm,” said McGill. “We hope the Harris plaintiffs and their lawyers will continue to support our shared goal of marriage equality by filing an amicus brief alongside us.”

Buzzfeed reports on the news and on the court's schedule:

Several big-name LGBT rights organizations and lawyers will all be filing briefs when the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals considers the case — a move the lawyers for the same-sex couples in the case had opposed.

The opening briefs in the appeal of the case backed by the American Foundation for Equal Rights, which was behind the challenge to California’s Proposition 8, are due March 28. Responses are due April 11, with the reply due on April 30. The case is tentatively scheduled to be argued before the appeals court the week of May 12.

Bostic v. Rainey  is very well positioned to be the next marriage case heard before the Supreme Court and any groups who are there will get the benefit of a national spotlight and credit for its ultimate victory.


Anti-Equality Party Chair Hopeful Splits Virginia Democratic Party

JonesDemocrats in Virginia will be electing a new party chair next week, and prospect Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones is causing a rift in the party over his stance against marriage equality. Presently 71 Central Committee members and 40 local party officers have all signed a petition asserting, “Unless Mayor Jones makes a strong public statement in support of legal marriage equality, we cannot consider supporting him.”

Jones, a Baptist pastor, has expressed his support for general LGBT equality but draws the line at marriage due to his religious beliefs and the Baptist denomination's opposition to marriage equality. In 2006 Jones voted for the constitutional amendment banning the recognition of all same-sex relationships and encouraged the federal government to do the same, distancing himself from supporting Obama after the President endorsed marriage equality.

An anonymous insider said that the anti-LGBT members within the Democratic party are "our Tea Party." 


Virginia Repeals Unconstitutional Sodomy Ban

House

Virginia’s House of Delegates on Thursday unanimously passed in a 100 to 0 vote a bill that would eliminate the state’s unconstitutional ban on sodomy that criminalized oral and anal sex since 1950, ThinkProgress reports. Previously approved by the Virginia state senate in a similar unanimous vote, the bill now awaits Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe’s signature or veto. 

The statute in question, Virginia’s Crimes Against Nature law, technically should have been made defunct after the Supreme Court ruling in Lawrence v. Texas which found that the state could not infringe on the rights of adult individuals to have consensual sex. However, many Republican legislators in Virginia, including former gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli, fought to keep it in place. The sodomy ban was battered in the courts and the Supreme Court made sure to keep clear of the case. Court rulings have also caused additional complications for those backing the law:

Last year, the federal courts overturned the conviction of a man charged, under Virginia’s Crimes Against Nature law, of soliciting a 17-year-old female for oral sex — a felony under the statute. Because that law — first enacted in 1950 to prohibit oral and anal sex, as well as bestiality — had not been updated, the court ruled it was unenforceable, putting the convictions of other sexual offenders and child predators at risk.

In response, Sen. Thomas A. Garrett (R) filed a bill in December that would have eliminated the ban on adult consensual sodomy, but would have made oral sex between 17-year-olds a felony, even if they were legally married. After ThinkProgress reported on this possibly unintended consequence, Garrett and the Senate Courts of Justice Committee agreed on a substitute version that generally treats all sex equally.

More than a decade after the Lawrence decision, several other states still have sodomy bans on the books, including Alabama, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah.


Lambda Legal and ACLU Seek to Intervene in Boies/Olson Virginia Marriage Case

Virginia

Lambda Legal, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia filed a motion earlier this week in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit to intervene on behalf of all Virginia's same-sex couples and their families in Bostic v. Rainey.

BosticAs you may know, the American Foundation for Equal Rights, and the ACLU and Lambda Legal have been leading separate cases challenging Virginia's gay marriage ban. AFER's case has already had a hearing and in mid-February, Judge Arenda Wright Allen struck down Virginia's gay marriage ban based on their arguments.

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals now has the case.

Lambda and the ACLU want in on this now, and issued a press release announcing the motion:

"We represent a class of all same sex couples in Virginia for whom the denial of marriage inflicts a variety of harms, and they deserve to be heard," said Greg Nevins, Counsel in Lambda Legal's Southern Regional Office based in Atlanta. "The Bostic appeal could decide the fate of not only both couples involved, but also the entire class of over 14,000 same-sex couples in Virginia who we represent."

The Harris case is awaiting decision from the court. Once that decision is issued, it will be appealed to the Fourth Circuit. In the meantime, allowing the Harris class action to intervene in the Bostic case now will allow the two cases to be consolidated on appeal without delaying or disrupting either case.

"From the beginning, both of these cases have proceeded on parallel tracks, and for the good of all couples in the state, we hope it will remain that way," said Joshua Block, staff attorney with the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Project. "This motion just ensures that all affected couples have their day in court."

The Bostic v. Rainey case is very well positioned to be the next marriage case heard before the Supreme Court and any groups who are there will get the benefit of a national spotlight and credit for its ultimate victory.

The Washington Blade notes that plaintiffs in Bostic aren't happy about the motion:

Matthew D. McGill, co-counsel for the plaintiffs in the Bostic case, questioned why the two groups petitioned the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to join the Bostic case.

“The addition of new parties to the case at this late stage risks delaying the proceedings, and there is not a moment to lose when gay and lesbian couples and families across Virginia – and other states in the Fourth Circuit – are experiencing real harm,” said McGill. “We hope the Harris plaintiffs and their lawyers will continue to support our shared goal of marriage equality by filing an amicus brief alongside us.”

A source involved in the legal process who asked to remain anonymous told the Blade there are “grave and serious consequences for an unwarranted ACLU intervention.” These could include the possibility that other groups from West Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina that fall under the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ jurisdiction could seek to join the case if allowed.

“If intervention were granted, it could adversely slow down the current appeals process – and time is critical when it comes to attaining marriage equality for all Virginians,” said the source. “There is not a day to lose. Groups like the ACLU can be supportive by simply filing amicus briefs.”

Stay tuned.


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