School teacher suspended for telling trans boy ‘you freak me out’
An assistant principal at Liberty High School in West Virginia has been suspended amid allegations he bullied a trans boy and told him that “you freak me out.”
Lee Livengood, the assistant principal at the Clarksburg school, allegedly followed trans boy Michael Critchfield into the men’s bathroom and challenged him to prove he was male by using a urinal, according to a complaint filed by the West Virginia chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
According to the complaint—seen by Yahoo—Livengood followed Michael into the bathroom, where the boy was using a stall, and asked him why he was in the men’s facilities. He allegedly told Michael to “come out here and use the urinal” to prove he was a boy.
The incident then escalated as Livengood reportedly blocked the exit and asked Michael what would happen if another boy thought Michael was checking him out in the bathroom. As Michael left the bathroom, Livengood allegedly said: “I’m not going to lie. You freak me out.”
Lee Livengood suspended
According to WV News, Livengood was suspended with pay on Tuesday for the remainder of the semester—which only lasts another four days.
The ACLU said this was not punishment enough. The ACLU said the four-day suspension was “not sufficient” and has also asked the school district to investigate, discipline Livengood and institute policies to ensure transgender students are treated with dignity.
The head of the Harrison County school district, Mark A. Manchin, said on Monday: “Clearly, the way we’ve handled this is inappropriate.
“Perhaps we need to do a better job about how we handle these situations. It’s a relatively new issue over the past several years that we’ve become more aware of and sensitive of.”
Trans boy Michael misgendered and ‘terrified’
In an ACLU press release, Michael, 15, said the incident with Livengood, which allegedly took place on November 27, had left him terrified.
“At the end of the day, all I want is to feel welcome and safe in my school,” the teenager said.
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“Mr Livengood’s behaviour in the bathroom that day was terrifying and no student deserves that kind of treatment.
“I’m telling my story so that high school doesn’t have to be a scary place for kids like me.”
According to the ACLU complaint filed to the school district, Michael’s parents, Caroline and Jon Critchfield, met with school administrators about the incident.
However, the complaint alleges that administrators at the school refused to call the boy by his preferred name, Michael, used his birth name over the intercom system and told him he couldn’t use the boys’ bathroom.
ACLU complaint over trans boy’s treatment
ACLU West Virginia executive director Joseph Cohen called on the school and the state to better address trans issues, saying: “More than 50 percent of male trans teens attempt suicide.
“This really is a life or death issue and it’s time that West Virginia schools take LGBTQ issues seriously.”