An Assistant Principal at a West Virginia high school was suspended with pay after following a transgender boy into the bathroom and telling him “you freak me out.”
According to a complaint filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, 15-year-old Michael Critchfield, who identifies as transgender, stopped off to use the boys bathroom on November 27 at Liberty High in Clarksville, West Virginia.
There he encountered Assistant Principal Lee Livengood, who began to harass him. Livengood allegedly followed Critchfield into the bathroom where Critchfield used a stall.
Livengood then began to taunt him about using the wrong gender bathroom, telling him if he was a boy, he should use a urinal.
Livengood blocked the exit to the bathroom and asked Critchfield what would happen if he saw another boy checking him out in the bathroom, capping off the incident by telling the student “I’m not going to lie. You freak me out.”
Despite requests by Michael and his parents, Liberty High faculty have refused to acknowledge his transgender status.
Administrators have refused to call him by his chosen name, refused to use it in public announcements and told him he cannot use the boys’ bathroom.
These refusals on the part of the faculty, along with the incident involving Livengood, prompted the Cirtchfield family to file the complaint.
Administrators suspended Livengood on Tuesday for the remainder of the fall semester–just four days. He will also receive full pay and benefits during that time.
The ACLU and Critchfield family have criticized district officials for not handling the incident with due severity.
Following Livengood’s suspension Tuesday night, District Superintendent Dr. Mark Manchin addressed the situation with the West Virginia Metro News.
“I don’t think more needs to be done,” Manchin said. “This does not reflect on our employees of Harrison County who are incredibly understanding and receptive to all types of students,” he continued. “You know, with 11,000 students, there are a myriad of issues that these students face, not only obviously this but a number of different things, and we recognize the differences and we embrace those differences.”
Manchin then added: “Ten, 15, 20 years ago, obviously there were transgender students but we didn’t have to address it. Now we do. We recognize that. We’re evolving, and if we need to go further we will. But right now I do not believe the necessity of any additional policies or any protections for any students that we do not already have.”