District Ignores State Law, Hides Gender Identity From Parents

A growing number of school districts across the United States have pushed for controversial policies regarding transgender students, including many that allow educators and administrators to actively deceive parents about the gender identity their children embrace while at school.

Republican lawmakers in North Dakota advanced a bill, which was signed into law by GOP Gov. Doug Burgum earlier this month, that prohibits schools from lying or omitting information about students’ gender.

Nevertheless, one of the state’s largest school districts decided to ignore the law and announced a policy allowing schools to keep students’ identities a secret from parents.

In a statement, Fargo Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Rupak Gandhi asserted: “We will not openly out any student because of one law if we know that that’s going to cause harm to that child.”

Many parents throughout the district support the laws as written, however, and believe the district’s decision will end up causing more harm.

“The way I see it, the way I heard it is that you want to protect kids from their parents,” one father said. “Instead of encouraging everyone to talk more, you are suppressing talk.”

An upset mother in the district asserted that the board has set a dangerous precedent with its decision.

“Whose kids are these?” she asked. “Do they belong to you as a school board? Do they belong to Fargo Public Schools? Or is each child’s parent ultimately the decision-maker in their family over what is allowed and what is safe for that child?”

Critics of the new law include a range of LGBT activists and organizations including the state’s chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.

“Mandatory outing of a student’s trans identity violates their privacy rights at school — particularly for trans youth who cannot be safe at home,” argued ACLU of North Dakota advocacy manager Cody Schuler. “And creating a supportive working and learning environment also requires treating people with dignity and respect, including — at a minimum — calling them by the name and pronouns they want to use.”

He insisted that the law enforces “both unlawful and discriminatory practices” in schools statewide.