A transgender student from a West Virginia high school is making headlines after accusing a school official bullied him in a school bathroom.
Michael Critchfield, 15, is a sophomore at Liberty High School in the Harrison County School District of West Virginia. He was preparing for an after-school marching band trip on 27 November when he decided to use the restroom before the 45-minute bus ride.
According to reports, Critchfield made a habit of checking the boys bathroom to make sure it was empty before using it.
Finding it empty, he stepped into a stall. What followed was an alleged encounter Critchfield described as ‘terrifying’ and ‘traumatizing’.
Critchfield said Lee Livengood, one of two assistant principals at the school, then came inside the bathroom and began harassing him.
‘He kept raising his voice and saying, “Why are you in this bathroom? You shouldn’t be here,”‘ the student told the Huffington Post. He also said Livengood blocked the entrance to the bathroom.
Livengood also allegedly told Critchfield to use the urinal and said: ‘If you can’t use this urinal, then you shouldn’t be in here. What if a student said you were checking them out in here?’
A horrific ordeal
The alleged harassment reportedly lasted three or four minutes before Livengood allowed Critchfield to leave.
When they both stepped outside, Critchfield crying, a chaperone for the band trip met them. Students who had reportedly heard Livengood from down the hall alerted the chaperone.
‘I wasn’t trying to be rude or anything,’ Livengood told the chaperone, according to Critchfield’s account. He also allegedly said to Critchfield: ‘I’m not gonna lie, you freak me out.’
Hours later, Critchfield told his mother, Caroline, what happened when she picked him up.
The school reportedly told Caroline Livengood would no longer have contact with Critchfield. They also said they would launch an investigation.
According to Critchfield, however, this didn’t happen immediately.
Livengood began appearing in the cafeteria during Critchfield’s lunch period, he said. He also started using a bathroom in the school office.
‘Everyone else gets to use the bathroom they identify with. It’s just not right,’ he said. ‘I just want to feel safe and welcome in my school.’
The ACLU gets involved
The Critchfields began working with West Virginia’s American Civil Liberties Union branch on the issue.
‘It shocks the conscience that they’ve apparently taken no steps to discipline Mr. Livengood on this,’ ACLU-WV Executive Director Joseph Cohen said.
Until today, when ACLU-WV tweeted Livengood has now been ‘suspended with pay’. The move came after the ACLU sent a letter to the school district about the matter.
‘While we are heartened to hear the administration admit to wrongdoing, a four day paid suspension of an employee is not sufficient,’ the ACLU wrote.
‘The Harrison County School District needs to make significant changes to its culture.’
They will also be meeting with the school district to discuss the matter in more depth.
GSN reached out to the Harrison County School District for comment.