Fargo Public Schools Superintendent speaks on decision by school board to follow federal instead of recently passed state law that impacts LGBTQ students

Courtesy: Fargo Public Schools
Courtesy: Fargo Public Schools

(Fargo, ND) -- Fargo Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Rupak Gandhi spoke with The Flag's What's on your Mind Program about his statements made during Tuesday's school board meeting.

In the meeting, Dr. Gandhi gave direction to Fargo Public School board members and officials to follow federal law over recently passed state law when it comes to new legislation that impacts LGBTQ+ youth. The bills would require teachers to tell a student's parents if the child is using gender pronouns that are different from one's assigned at birth and prohibit transgender public school students from using a bathroom for the gender opposite of their biological sex. Dr. Gandhi says these laws are not in compliance with established federal law

"This law as written, there are components that conflict with federal law and there's components of this law that conflict with our responsibility to keep all students safe and provide a welcoming environment,"  said Dr. Gandhi, in defense of his statement made during the Superintendent Report on Tuesday, "The board's function is to govern through risk mitigation. My recommendation was to follow federal law because I would rather risk an organizational negative consequence than a negative consequence to a student, given the research I had cited about the impact of not supporting students."

The research Dr. Gandhi is citing is supported by The Trevor Project, a national non-profit organization who works to reduce suicides among the LGBTQ+ community. Data shows suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people aged 10 to 24, especially among LGBTQ youth. At the meeting on Tuesday, Dr. Gandhi says he believes the newly passed state laws are in violation of federal law.

"This would be administration's 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, "said Dr. Gandhi in the May 9th School Board meeting, "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."

You can watch the May 9th Fargo School Board Superintendent Report by clicking the video below. Our original coverage can be found by clicking here

Original Air Date: 
Thursday, May 11, 2023