ACLU appeals in case alleging WV trans teen harassment

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Lawyers for a transgender teenager in West Virginia on Friday appealed the dismissal of a lawsuit that accused an assistant principal of harassing the student for using the boy’s bathroom.

The American Civil Liberties Union’s West Virginia chapter said it’s “not done fighting for justice” for client Michael Critchfield after the case was tossed by a judge last month.

The lawsuit alleges Liberty High School Assistant Principal Lee Livengood followed Critchfield into a boy’s bathroom in 2018 and said “You freak me out” and “You shouldn’t be in here.” Critchfield said he also was ordered to prove his gender by using a urinal. He was 15 at the time.

Livengood was suspended with pay but was later allowed to return to his position. The school board then voted not to renew his contract at the end of a three-year probationary period, but reversed itself a month later and reinstated him.

“Let’s remember that Mr. Livengood’s abhorrent behavior and the board of education’s failure to ensure a safe environment exists for Harrison County students is what led to this litigation,” said Loree Stark, legal director for the ACLU chapter.

The lawsuit argued that the school board failed to crate a safe school environment. It sought unspecified damages and wanted to prohibit Livengood from having contact with Critchfield and his family.

In dismissing the case, Harrison County Circuit Judge Chris McCarthy ruled that the school board was immune from Livengood’s actions.

Livengood’s lawyer has said his client did not know about Critchfield’s gender identity and wasn’t told about an arrangement Critchfield had with the principal to use the boys’ restrooms.

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