News (USA)

The school official who demanded a trans teen pee in front of him got suspended

A bathroom with a "We don't care" sign on it that has a bi-gender stick figure.
In this Thursday, May 12, 2016 file photo, signage is seen outside a restroom at 21c Museum Hotel in Durham, N.C. Ten states sued the federal government Friday, July 8, 2016 over rules requiring public schools to allow transgender students to use restrooms conforming to their gender identity, joining a dozen other states in the latest fight over LGBT rights. Photo: AP/Gerry Broome

An assistant principal at a high school in West Virginia has been suspended without pay for reportedly bullying a transgender boy who was trying to use the bathroom.

Michael Critchfield, 15, said that Assistant Principal Lee Livengood entered the boys room while the teen was using it and told him he “shouldn’t be here.”

Livengood told Critchfield, who is transgender, to “come out here and use the urinal” to “prove” that he’s really a boy.

“If you can’t use this urinal, then you shouldn’t be in here,” Livengood shouted, according to the teen. “What if a student said you were checking them out in here?”

The incident happened two months ago. The school apologized but did nothing, so the family sought help from the ACLU of West Virginia.

Related: Public schools are actively hostile to LGBT students, report finds

They sent a letter, but again they got no response.

After the story got some media attention, the superintendent says that the assistant principal was suspended with pay until the end of the winter break.

“I was able to confirm the interaction with Mr. Livengood and that indeed he acted inappropriately. We need to address it and we will address it,” Harrison County Superintendent Mark Manchin told the West Virginia MetroNews.

He said that Livengood was “contrite.”

“He understood the severity, that it’s a hot button issue, how we need to handle this, he was aware, and unfortunately we didn’t handle it well,” Manchin said.

That’s not enough, the ACLU-WV responded, noting that the assistant principal only got a four-day paid suspension.

The family asked the school for better training and policies on LGBTQ issues, as well as real disciplinary action against Livengood.

“The Harrison County School District needs to make significant changes to its culture,” the ACLU-WV said in a statement. “We look forward to meeting with Mr. Manchin and developing a real plan to ensure that every student is safe.”

Manchin said, though, that he thinks this is enough because the school has several transgender students and this is the first incident of its kind that he knows about.

“I am very proud of our principals and our teachers who recognize those differences and understand that we have to embrace them and work with all students regardless of their race, creed, color, sexual orientation or anything like that,” he said.

Critchfield hasn’t commented on the development.

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