ACLU: Harrison County Schools haven't fully addressed transgender bullying issue

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HARRISON COUNTY, W.Va (WDTV) - On November 27th, the ACLU of WV sent a press release alleging transgender Liberty High School student Micheal Critchfield had been "cornered, harassed, and intimidated in a public boys bathroom by an assistant principal."

Following the accusations, Assistant Principal Lee Livengood was suspended during the investigation, but was reinstated on February 8th.

The Harrison County BOE met with the ACLU to discuss new school policies. Now, all Harrison County Schools can make a document available for students who want to change their names or gender, but must notify one parent.

"We believe a parent should be a part of that," said Harrison County Superintendent Dr. Mark Manchin. "So the protocol document does require a parent's signature. We also have in it certain protocol that's appropriate in how we handle when a child wants to be known by a different gender."

ACLU Legal Director Loree Stark says that policy requirement should be rejected, and can be a danger to LGBTQ students.

"Unfortunately a lot of kids don't have supportive environments at home like Michael," said Stark. "And requiring notification could make it unsafe for them at home or prevent them from coming out at school."

The agreement also included Liberty High School creating a gay-straight alliance, which has not happened yet according to Dr. Manchin, because staff can not force the school to make it.

"Any alliance that would be formed will be supported and allowed, but it has to be initiated and driven by the students, not by faculty," said Dr. Manchin.

Michael made a statement with the ACLU saying he has seen "little effort from administration to create real change and ensure this never happens again". He also called this a 'slap in the face'.