LYNCHBURG, Va. -

You won't have any problem getting Sunnie Kahle to open up about her hobbies.

The energetic eight-year-old will proudly show you her collection of coins, hunting knives, and autographed baseballs.

"It's fun," she explained, when asked why she enjoys collecting those items.

Kahle likes teddy bears and colorful bracelets, but for the most part she's interested in things that might be considered "boy hobbies."

"Sunnie realizes she's a female, but she wants to do boy things," said Doris Thompson, Kahle's great-grandmother and legal guardian.  "She wants to play rough and tough."

Thompson has raised Kahle since she was an infant.  When she turned five, Thompson said she asked for a short hair cut.

"She had hair down to her waist and she wanted to give it to a child with cancer," said Thompson.  "After we cut her hair she started wanting to wear jeans and a t-shirt.  She didn't want to wear her frilly dresses anymore."

Her appearance started leading to awkward questions at school.

Kahle said her classmates would occasionally ask if she was a boy or a girl, but she said the question did not hurt her feelings.

The issue caught the attention of administrators at Timberlake Christian School, where Kahle was a student.

Elementary principal Becky Bowman sent home a letter last month, reminding Thompson of the school's religious affiliation and it's right to refuse students who contradict a "biblical lifestyle."

"We believe that unless Sunnie and 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," Bowman wrote in the letter, which was given to WDBJ7 by Thompson.

Thompson said she was offended by the letter's language and its references to biblical passages about sexual immorality.

"To claim that we are condoning sexual immorality in our home is nonsense," Thompson said.  "We are Christians.  We understand the Bible.  Sunnie knows it very well.  She has accepted Christ."

Thompson says Kahle is simply a tomboy, and that she's too young to understand sexual orientation or gender issues.

"If my child grows up to be homosexual or transgendered, I will love her that much more," Thompson said.

Although she wasn't forced to leave, Kahle is now in public school and no longer attending Timberlake Christian. She wishes things would have turned out differently.

"I should just be able to be me and not let them worry about it," Kahle said.

Jeff Abbett, administrator of Timberlake Christian Schools, sent WDBJ7 the following statement Tuesday afternoon:

"We are heart-broken that Sunnie’s grandparents have made her the subject of a public discussion. We regret that they made the decision to withdraw Sunnie immediately from Timberlake Christian Schools.

For confidentiality reasons related to a minor, it is not possible for us to explain in full detail the volume of documentation we have concerning the situation that the grandparents have made public. There is much more to this story than has been revealed related to Sunnie and the classroom environment. Our documentation shows a significantly different narrative than the one portrayed in the original news report.

You can be assured that we have cared for Sunnie and worked with her grandparents for several years to assist them. Our TCS teachers and administrators love Sunnie and we can assure everyone that this has never been an issue of hair length or boots as it has been portrayed. It has been our constant desire over the last several years to work with this family and to shepherd this precious little girl in a way consistent with traditional values.

As a private Christian school, we have the responsibility to all our students to assist parents to instill the Christian values upon which our school is founded.

We reiterate that the decision to remove Sunnie was entirely that of the grandparents."

Thompson said that Kahle never had any behavioral issues at TCS and maintained a 4.0 average in her academic work.  She said the only disciplinary issue that Kahle might have caused was that she wanted to wear boy's pants as part of her school uniform.