WV Supreme Court of Appeals reverses dismissal of trans teen’s case

West Virginia

A judge’s gavel is shown in a file photo. (Credit: iStock / Getty Images Plus)

CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK)—On Thursday, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals reversed a Harrison County Circuit Court dismissal of a transgender teenager’s case against the county school board.

The teen, Michael Critchfield, is said to have suffered abuse at the hands of his school’s assistant principal, Lee Livengood in 2018. Livengood is alleged to have followed Critchfield into the boys’ restroom and proceeded to berate, harass and misgender the juvenile. The ACLU of West Virginia says that Livengood told Critchfield to “come out here and use the urinal” in order to “prove he is a boy.”

The case, brought on Critchfield’s behalf by the ACLU of West Virginia and Teresa Toriseva of Toriseva Law against the Harrison County Board of Education, was dismissed in 2020 by a Harrison County Circuit Court judge who ruled that the school board wasn’t liable for Livengood’s actions.

Thursday’s ruling will remand the case back to the Circuit Court, Critchfield’s case will be able to proceed.

“This is a victory for all West Virginia kids,” Toriseva said. “If they are abused, they can have their day in court.”

“We’ve said all along we wouldn’t tolerate the kind of behavior Michael endured from a student and we certainly shouldn’t tolerate from a school official who is supposed to educate and protect students,” ACLU-WV Legal Director Loree Stark said.

Critchfield graduated Magna Cum Laude from Liberty High School in the spring of 2021, and he wants to help other trans kids.

“I’ve stayed in this fight because I want schools to be safer for trans kids who come after me,” he said. “I’m doing this for them.”

The case will now return to Harrison County Circuit Court.

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