ACLU: Transgender boy harassed in school restroom by assistant principal

ACLU: Transgender boy harassed in school restroom by assistant principal
The school board is fully aware of the Nov. 27 incident at Liberty and has already launched an investigation into the alleged harassment. (Source: WDTV/CNN)

CLARKSBURG, WV (WDTV/CNN) - A transgender student in West Virginia wants his school to take action after he said he was harassed in a bathroom.

According to a letter sent to the Harrison County Board of Education by the American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia, a transgender boy entered what he thought was an empty boys’ restroom at Liberty High School.

After the student was in a stall, he was allegedly harassed and bullied by an assistant principal.

"He mis-gendered him, at one point challenged him to come out and use a urinal, essentially to prove that he was a boy. When he came out of the stall, the principal was standing in front of the exit, essentially blocking him in so he could not leave," said Joseph Cohen of the ACLU.

The student is being represented by the ACLU in the hopes of fighting for better trans rights for students at his own school, and throughout the state.

The letter also claims the student was intentionally mis-gendered at school, which can have a negative impact on trans teens.

“More than 50 percent of male trans teens attempt suicide,” Cohen explained. “This really is a life or death issue and it’s time that West Virginia schools take LGBTQ issues seriously.”

The school board is fully aware of the Nov. 27 incident at Liberty and has already launched an investigation into the alleged harassment.

Superintendent Dr. Mark Manchin said they are trying to give due process, but do have some insight into the matter.

“The preliminary information that I have received is perhaps, it does appear from what I’ve been able to confirm is that our employee did not act in an appropriate manner, and was not sensitive to the needs of one of our students,” Manchin said.

ACLU representatives say the student is back at school and has a support system there, but he’s suffering from anxiety and has suffered a panic attack following the harassment.

Manchin said officials are trying to take action to ensure their students' safety.

"Everybody has certain rights and also responsibilities, and we certainly take this very, very seriously to ensure all of our children are treated fairly and equitably," Manchin stressed.

According to the ACLU, the assistant principal has not been disciplined.

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