Harrison County, W.V. BOE discuss bathroom incident involving a transgender student

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The Harrison County Board of Education voted Tuesday evening to suspend an assistant principal without pay until February for an incident involving a transgender student.

The incident which involved a transgender student and Liberty High School Assistant Principal Lee Livengood, happened on November 27, 2018 in the boy’s bathroom at the high school. Livengood was accused of bullying the student, and according to a release by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of West Virginia, Livengood challenged the student to “use a urinal to prove that he was a boy.” 

Livengood was suspended with pay during the high school’s holiday break in December, and he will have to meet a number of stipulations outlined by the board before he can be reinstated on February 1. The only stipulation that the BOE has disclosed at this time is that Livengood will have to undergo sensitivity training. The rest of the stipulations have not been released at this time.

“I think we have to talk a little bit about what the stipulations are exactly, but we’re still working out some details with the school,” said Joseph Cohen, Executive Director of the ACLU of West Virginia.

Earlier Tuesday, the BOE spoke with the ACLU where they discussed the incident involving the transgender male student, and also how the BOE wants to handle those issues in the future.  

“We recognize our employees and our board of education, our students all recognize that the world is changing, and we must understand and embrace those changes. It’s not easy for everybody, and we understand that you don’t just jump in immediately and make these decisions,” said Dr. Mark Manchin, Superintendent of Harrison County Schools.  

The board will also move to implement a county-wide sensitivity training course for all staff members. Manchin said that the board has been providing sensitivity and diversity training to its employees since 2015, and will continue to provide training that will allow staff and students to embrace the differences that they face in the schools.  

“We’re continuing to learn, but also recognize that diversity and understanding differences is critical to our success,” said Manchin.

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