North Dakota District To Keep Gender Identity From Parents

In defiance of clear state law, a North Dakota school district said it will cover up “gender identities” of students from parents.

Fargo Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Rupak Gandhi declared that “we will not openly out any student because of one law if we know that that’s going to cause harm to that child.” The school board supported the announcement.

At a May 9 school board meeting, Gandhi said the system should “double down” as student advocates for what he perceived as a conflict between federal and state law.

He said the move is not intended to go “against parents.”

This stand contradicts the law signed by Republican Gov. Doug Burgum earlier this month. The legislation prohibits schools from not revealing details about a student’s “gender status” from their parents or legal guardians.

As would be expected, the school system’s stand ignited controversy among local parents.

One father said officials are acting as though they need to protect students from their parents. This is being done, he asserted, “instead of encouraging everyone to talk more.” He said the result is that meaningful conversations are suppressed.

Another even more specifically condemned the action as an abuse of authority the government does not possess.

The mother asked that school officials “pay attention to what we’re setting as a precedent. Whose kids are these? Do they belong to you as a school board? Do they belong to Fargo Public Schools?”

“Or,” she added, “is each child’s parent ultimately the decision-maker in their family over what is allowed and what is safe for that child?”

The answer for any logical person is obvious. For the Fargo school board and at least some advocates, it is not so clear.

One mother, Kristen Nelson, is the co-founder of a local LGBT youth organization. She said that “inclusive school policies and procedures make a difference.” That was hardly the majority opinion, as parent after parent chided the system for “facilitating secret-keeping.”

Another mother told the board that parents teach their children that people who asked you to keep a secret are not safe. “Now, this is going the other way. This is an adult saying that they’ll keep a child’s secret.”

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