Fargo Public Schools Superintendent speaks out on recent LGBTQ-related legislation

Published: May. 10, 2023 at 9:19 AM CDT
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FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - The superintendent of Fargo Public Schools is formally addressing recent legislation concerning gender expression, gender identity and other LGBTQ+ issues.

At a school board meeting on Tuesday, May 9, Superintendent Dr. Rupak Gandhi said, “It is unfortunate that we as adults in North Dakota and in the legislative session failed our children because we are putting politics over our humanity.”

Dr. Gandhi presented facts reported by the Trevor Project, showing suicide is the second leading cause of death for children ages 10 to 24. He also reported LGBTQ youth are four times as likely to attempt suicide than their peers.

The superintendent’s presentation went on to show that of LGBTQ youth, one third report parental acceptance at home, one third report parental rejection, and one third report hiding their true identity.

“There has been some legislation that has been passed that are not supportive of our students,” Dr. Gandhi said.

At the end of his presentation, the superintendent said, “Unless directed by the board otherwise, it is my formal request, on record, that we are going to do what is right for kids. And when we see a conflict between federal law and state law, we are going to double down to advocate for our youth. It’s not against parents, it’s for kids.”

He went on to say, “We will not openly ‘out’ any student because of one law, if we know that is going to cause harm to that child. Unless dictated by the board otherwise, we will not participate in anything that we think will subject students to further discrimination or increase their self harm.”

The school board voiced their support for the superintendent’s stance, with board member Robin Nelson saying, “You have the board’s backing on that philosophy.”

This comes as North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum (R) recently signed a bill that allows public school teachers to ignore the pronouns of transgender students. The bill also requires teachers to tell parents or legal guardians if a student identifies as transgender at school. It also prohibits trans students from using the bathroom of their choice without previous approval from a parent or guardian.