Metro Weekly

West Virginia assistant principal suspended after harassing transgender student for using boys’ restroom

Student says the administrator challenged him to use a urinal to "prove" he was a boy and told him, "You freak me out"

Liberty High School – Photo: Harrison County Board of Education.

A West Virginia high school’s assistant principal has been suspended after a transgender male student claimed the administrator harassed him for trying to use the boys’ restroom.

According to Fox News, Lee Livengood was suspended with pay through the end of the semester after meeting with Harrison County school administrators to discuss the incident.

The student, who has since enlisted the aid of the American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia, claimed that, on Nov. 27, he had entered what he thought was an empty boys’ restroom at Liberty High School in Clarksburg, W.V.

The student claims Livengood harassed him, and challenged him to use a urinal to prove he was a boy. He then blocked the exit to the bathroom and allegedly told the student “Not going to lie. You freak me out,” in front of other students and a chaperone, according to initial reports by CBS affiliate WDTV

The student also claims he has been repeatedly and intentional misgendered at school and harassed because of his gender identity on other occasions. 

“The fact that this not only occurred on school property, but was perpetrated by a principal at the school is reprehensible,” Joseph Cohen, the executive director of the ACLU of West Virginia, said in a press release calling for the school to take action against Livengood.

The school board is already aware of the student’s allegations and has launched an investigation into the incident.

Following Livengood’s suspension, the organization issued another statement saying the punishment did not go far enough.

“”While we are heartened to hear the administration admit to wrongdoing, a four-day paid suspension of an employee is not sufficient,” the statement read. “The Harrison County School District needs to make significant changes to its culture. We look forward to meeting with Mr. Manchin and developing a real plan to ensure that every student is safe.”

Superintendent Mark Manchin has said the district is planning to hold a meeting with the ACLU on Jan. 4 to discuss if Livengood will face additional punishments, and what can be done to mitigate the situation. He has also raised the possibility of having people from West Virginia University provide sensitivity training to school staff on how to deal with transgender students and issues.

“We want to send a very clear message that we will not tolerate that behavior from any of our employees here in Harrison county, and we want to learn,” Manchin said.

John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

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