The school board in Harrison County, West Virginia, voted on Tuesday not to renew the contract of a school official who had been temporarily suspended late last year for allegedly harassing a transgender male student.
Lee Livengood, an assistant principal at Liberty High School, allegedly followed Michael Critchfield, 15, into the boys’ bathroom last November and told him, “You freak me out.”
Livengood was suspended without pay for four days in December before returning to Liberty High. The American Civil Liberties Union’s West Virginia chapter called the suspension “not sufficient.”
The ACLU said 1,100 people signed a petition demanding the board take action. The petition was delivered Tuesday.
Critchfield, who said he was traumatized by the incident, recalled Livengood repeatedly yelling: “Why are you in here? You shouldn’t be in here.”
Critchfield replied it was his legal right to use that bathroom. He said Livengood used improper pronouns when referring to Critchfield and challenged him to use a urinal to prove that he was a boy.
“I felt really degraded and discriminated against,” Critchfield said, adding that school “should feel like a safe place.”
“Kids like me should never have to go through anything like this,” he added. “At the end of the day all I wanted was to feel welcome.”
Harrison County Superintendent Mark Manchin is the cousin of Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., according to The Charleston Gazette-Mail.
This week, Sen. Manchin became the sole Senate Democrat to share significant concerns about the Equality Act, a federal bill that would add “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the list of protected classes in the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The senator cited concerns about what the Equality Act would mean for school policies regarding transgender students.
“I am not convinced that the Equality Act as written provides sufficient guidance to the local officials who will be responsible for implementing it, particularly with respect to students transitioning between genders in public schools,” Manchin wrote in a statement posted on his website.