A West Virginia assistant principal is set to keep his job despite allegedly confronting a 15-year-old trans boy in a school bathroom and telling him: “You freak me out.”
The Harrison County Board of Education decided on Tuesday (January 8) that Lee Livengood would be allowed to return to his role at Liberty High School on February 1 if he met undisclosed requirements and went on a sensitivity training programme, according to West Virginia MetroNews.
The move, which went against Superintendent Mark Manchin’s recommendation of indefinite suspension, came after trans student Michael Critchfield accused Livengood of challenging him to prove his gender by using a urinal.
Michael said that during the incident on November 27, Livengood also misgendered him and yelled: “Why are you in here? You shouldn’t be in here.”
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.
Board President Frank Devon said that after taking Manchin’s recommendation into consideration, the board “came out with a vote to reinstate after an unpaid suspension through February 1, contingent upon meeting certain stipulations that are between Dr Manchin, the Board of Education, and Lee Livengood.”
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“There are many diverse populations in the school system, and being able to interact with them in the appropriate manner is expected of all of our administrators and educators”
— Board President Frank Devon
Some of these stipulations will reportedly be developed with the help of the ACLU, and Livengood will be required to take a sensitivity training programme.
“As you know, there are many diverse populations in the school system in the county, and being able to interact with them in the appropriate manner is expected of all of our administrators and educators,” Devon said.
He continued: “We have to provide these children with a safe environment for public education, and this issue to me is not about what bathroom a student used but it’s about a student being able to receive a safe education in a safe public environment.
“Education transcends gender, it transcends race, it transcends creed, it transcends socioeconomic status, so in order for these students to be able to fulfil their educational goals and goals that we have set for them, they need to be in a safe environment.”
Trans teen is back at school but says he’s traumatised
The trans student has returned to school, but said he has suffered from anxiety and at least one panic attack since the incident.
In the ACLU complaint, Michael 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.”