(Fargo, ND) -- Fargo Public Schools says they are likely going to ignore newly passed legislation in North Dakota that would impact LGBTQ youth.
The statements were made during the superintendent's report in Tuesday night's school board meeting in light of National Mental Health Awareness Month. During the report, Fargo Superintendent Dr. Rupak Gandhi cited several studies supported by The Trevor Project, which say suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people aged 10 to 24, suicide is four times more likely among LGBTQ youth, and that 45% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered suicide in the past year - including more than half of transgender youth and nonbinary youth.
"When we see a conflict between federal law and state law, we are going to double down to advocate for our youth, "said Dr. Gandhi, who was holding back tears, "This would be administrations request. Unless the board tells us otherwise, 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 is going to subject students to further discrimination or increase their self harm."
Following the report by Dr. Gandhi, several school board members shared their perspectives. Each member expressed support to the superintendent's message and to follow federal laws instead of state law.
"Thank you for sharing that. Thank you for bearing your soul, "said Board Member Robin Nelson, "This indicates that you are a leader that our school district and our students deserve, so thank you for taking that stance. It's pretty clear you have this board's backing on that philosophy."
"I think it is fairly clear what FPS is planting their flag to do, "said Board Member Greg Clarke, "and [I'll] remind those folks watching that we have open enrollment in North Dakota. Come to Fargo."
WDAY Radio is reaching out to Fargo Public Schools and North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum for comment.