West Virginia judge dismisses suit by trans teen who said he was bullied by high school principal

A West Virginia judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed in behalf of a transgender teen who said he was bullied when he tried to use the boys bathroom at his high school in November, 2018.

The lawsuit, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union’s West Virginia chapter on behalf of Michael Critchfield, accused the board of education of failing to create a safe environment for the student.

According to The Associated Press, Harrison County Circuit Judge Chris McCarthy granted a motion this week by the Board of Education to dismiss the suit.

“We are disappointed in the court’s decision,” ACLU of West Virginia legal director Loree Stark said in a statement. “However, this was largely a procedural ruling and did not address the underlying allegations in the case. We are currently exploring our options going forward, but we are not done fighting for justice in this matter.”

According to the lawsuit, Lee Livengood, an assistant principal at Liberty High School in Clarksburg, W.Va., allegedly bullied the then-15-year-old Critchfield in the school bathroom on Nov. 27, 2018.

He allegedly followed Critchfield, who identifies as transgender, into the he bathroom and ordered him to use the urinal to prove his gender.

“I saw he was blocking the entrance to the bathroom,” then-sophomore Critchfield told HuffPost at the time. “He kept raising his voice and saying, ‘Why are you in this bathroom? You shouldn’t be here.’”

Before he walked out, Livengood said, “I’m not going to lie. You freak me out,” the complaint said.

This week, Judge McCarthy ruled that the Harrison County Board of Education was immune from the alleged acts, according to West Virginia newspaper The Exponent Telegram.

Mak Manchin, Harrison County Schools superintendent, celebrated the dismissal, maintaining that the school has always acted correctly .

“We want to ensure the rights of the student and all parties involved, including the educational process and that’s really where we are on this whole thing,” he told the local publication.

“Now that this is dismissed, we can move ahead and make sure that we continue to provide the same quality of education for all students, embracing them regardless of race or gender. We are glad we are able to get this case dismissed, put this behind us and move on,” he added.

On Dec. 17, 2018, Livengood was temporarily suspended with pay, but returned to work after a holiday break.

Last March the board voted not to renew his probationary contract, which would effectively terminate his employment on June 30. However, the decision was reversed a month later.

*story by nydailynews.com