West Virginia assistant principal Lee Livengood is facing indefinite suspension after allegedly telling a trans teen: “You freak me out.”
The Harrison County Board of Education is set to meet late on Tuesday (January 8) to discuss whether to accept Superintendent Mark Manchin’s recommendation to suspend Livengood indefinitely without pay, reported the Associated Press.
Michael Critchfield, a 15-year-old student at Liberty High School, accused Livengood of misgendering him and challenging him to prove his gender by using a urinal.
The teen alleged the incident took place on November 27. After a complaint from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the assistant principal was suspended in December for the rest of the semester—four days.
West Virginia trans teen says incident left him traumatised
The student said he had returned to school since the alleged confrontation, in which Livengood allegedly yelled at him: “Why are you in here? You shouldn’t be in here” and refused to use his chosen name.
“Livengood’s behaviour in the bathroom that day was terrifying and no student deserves that kind of treatment.”
— Michael Critchfield
Critchfield explained that he has suffered from anxiety and at least one panic attack since the incident.
In the ACLU complaint, he said: “At the end of the day, all I want is to feel welcome and safe in my school. 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,” added the trans teen, before saying that he “felt really degraded and discriminated against.”
Critchfield told Out Magazine that this wasn’t the first instance of anti-trans sentiment he’d experienced at West Virginia’s Liberty High school.
“I have been misgendered and deadnamed by teachers throughout the entire time I’ve been at Liberty, but this incident was the most traumatising and hurt more than anything else that had happened to me at school,” the trans teen said.
After Livengood was effectively suspended for four days, Superintendent Manchin admitted fault, saying: “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.”
Harrison County Board of Education President Frank Devono said that sensitivity training was being implemented across the West Virginia county.