A transgender boy in West Virginia says that he was bullied by a school official in a bathroom.
Michael Critchfield, 15, said that he just wanted to use the bathroom at Liberty High School in Clarksburg, West Virginia, before getting on the bus for a band trip. He went to the boys room and made sure no one was in it – something he has been in the habit of doing to avoid conflict.
While he was in a stall, Assistant Principal Lee Livengood entered the restroom and started berating Critchfield about using it, the teen said.
“I saw he was blocking the entrance to the bathroom. He kept raising his voice and saying, ‘Why are you in this bathroom? You shouldn’t be here.’”
Livengood allegedly told Critchfield to “come out here and use the urinal” to prove that he belongs in the boys room.
“If you can’t use this urinal, then you shouldn’t be in here,” Critchfield told the Huffington Post Livengood shouted. “What if a student said you were checking them out in here?”
The confrontation lasted three or four minutes, and other students down the hall could hear what was happening.
A parent chaperone intervened, and Livengood said it was a “misunderstanding.”
“I wasn’t trying to be rude or anything,” Livengood allegedly said. “I’m not going to lie, you freak me out.”
“I was like breaking down crying from all the stress,” Critchfield said. “I was very anxious and frustrated. He wouldn’t let me talk. It was very traumatizing.”
After the trip, when his mother Caroline came to pick him up, Critchfield and several witnesses filled her in on what happened.
“It’s heartbreaking,” she said. “How could someone who’s supposed to be in an administrative position do something like this? It made me sick to my stomach.”
The family has contacted the American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia (ACLU-WV) for help, and they have sent a letter to the school asking for disciplinary action against the assistant principal and better faculty and staff training on LGBTQ issues.
Harrison County Schools has not responded to the letter, but district officials apologized to the family and promised that there would be an investigation. That was the last they heard from the school district, two months ago.
While the family say that they hope to settle the matter without resorting to a lawsuit, they are keeping all their options open.
“I just want to feel safe and welcome in my school,” Critchfield said.