CLARKSBURG, W.Va. – The American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia (ACLU-WV) and Teresa Toriseva of Toriseva Law in Wheeling have filed a lawsuit in Harrison County Circuit Court over the abusive treatment of a transgender high school student, and following the school system’s continued failure to follow its own policies regarding the matter.
“This action is a last resort,” said Loree Stark, ACLU-WV legal director. “Time and time again, we have attempted in good faith to work with Harrison County Schools to create a safe environment for Michael and others like him, but school officials have not taken this seriously.”
The lawsuit comes ten months after a school administrator bullied and harassed 15-year-old Michael Critchfield for using the boys restroom after school. The administrator followed Michael into the restroom, blocked the doorway and continued to berate him for using the boys room, even telling him to “come out here and use the urinal” to prove he is a boy.
“What happened to Michael shouldn’t happen to any kid,” Toriseva said. “For four long minutes, Michael was held against his will by a man twice his size and who was in a position of authority, who was screaming at him and demanding he expose himself.
“We would not tolerate this kind of behavior from a student, and we certainly shouldn’t tolerate it from an assistant principal, and yet the Harrison County School Board has done just that.”
In addition to damages for Michael and his family, ACLU-WV is seeking injunctive relief keeping the abusive administrator from having further contact of any kind with the Critchfields.
The following statement can be attributed to Michael Critchfield.
“Schools are supposed to protect students. I’ve said all along I’m doing this to help other kids who are facing this same kind of treatment.”