Fargo School District recruits Florida teachers upset with DeSantis’ parental rights law

Read the letter to Florida educators HERE.

FARGO (FOX)  – A letter circulating on social media shows members of the Fargo Public School District recruiting Florida teachers who object to a recently-passed parental rights bill in the state.

“You don’t know us, so we’ll start with this important statement: we are way OK with saying gay or straight, or LGBT,” the letter addressed to “Florida educators” from the Fargo School District and posted by North Dakota Republican State House Candidate Ethan Harsell begins.

The letter states that its purpose is “twofold”: it is intended to “demonstrate support” for Florida’s LGBTQ community and to “share an opportunity to be embraced, welcomed, and celebrated here in Fargo.”

Fargo Schools Superintendent Dr. Rupak Gandhi, Fargo Schools Director of Equity and Inclusion Dr. Tamara Uselman, Fargo City Commissioner John Strand, and Democratic State Rep. Joshua Boschee wrote the letter.

The letter’s authors list the variety of ways that Fargo Public Schools has worked to build a more “inclusive community” including becoming the first school district in the state to hire a Director of Diversity and Inclusion, and being one of the first school districts to incorporate an “LGBT liaison” with the police department.

“In summary, please know that Fargo Public Schools and public sectors within the Greater Fargo community not only offer a welcome to you but also offer actionable examples of our commitment to becoming an inclusive community that LGBTQ+ people can call home,” the letter says. “Reach out if you have any questions or want to learn more.”

The copy of the letter received immediate pushback from conservatives on Twitter, many of whom pointing out that the Florida bill does not mention the word “gay,” despite many critics labeling the legislation the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

“LOL. Bye,” Christina Pushaw, rapid response director for Gov. Ron DeSantis’s reelection campaign, tweeted. “Fun fact: nothing in the legislation bans Floridians from saying the word ‘GAY.'”

“The same Fargo Public Schools that voted to nix the Pledge of Allegiance from school board meetings – yikes!” Defense of Freedom Institute spokesperson Angela Morabito tweeted, referencing a recent report that the Fargo School District Board nixed the Pledge of Allegiance from its meetings.

Republican State Rep. Joe Harding, who sponsored the Florida legislation that he says simply gives parents more of a say in what their young children are being told about sexuality in school, told Fox News Digital in a statement that teachers in Florida who are upset with the bill are free to leave.

“If Fargo wants groomers they can have them,” Harding said. “No sane person would choose to leave Florida to live in North Dakota.”

In a statement provided to Fox News Digital, Dr. Gandhi and Dr. Uselman defended the letter as part of a “necessary” push for “inclusion” in Fargo schools.

“The letter to Florida Educators was drafted by the authors for the reasons outlined in the letter,” the statement said. “Inclusion is necessary for Fargo Public Schools to meet its mission to ‘achieve excellence by educating and empowering all students to succeed.'”

The statement added that the letter is not meant to “imply that Fargo is a better place for teachers than Florida” but “rather shares our welcoming environment in Fargo to those who are interested in joining our community.”

“Our letter does not imply that the legislation bans Floridians from saying the word ‘gay,’ it was intended for those considering new opportunities,” the statement said.

State Rep. Boschee responded to a Fox News Digital request for comment with a statement saying that the letter is “intended to demonstrate that Fargo Public Schools and our local community would love to have professionals in every industry who shares [sic] our local communities [sic] values of inclusivity, hard work, collaboration and civility.”

“Speaking as an LGBT North Dakotan, I know I am not alone when I say that it was in fact an educator who was one of the first adults who supported us to be who we are,” Boschee added. “Who helped us figure out how to visit with our family and friends about the questions we had regarding our sexual orientation or gender identity. Regardless of whether a student is straight or gay, Christian or Muslim, a native English speaker or learning English as their third or fourth language or on an individualized learning plan or not, outside of a family member, it is often an educator who we think of that made the greatest impact in our ability to be felt seen, appreciated and worthy of achieving our goals and dreams.”

Commissioner Strand told Fox News Digital that he is “very proud of the school district in ND’s largest city messaging about how it values professional teachers while also reinforcing an authentic respect for the work they do.”

“In this world where we supposedly claim to be anti-bullying, it would be prudent for us to at every corner nip bullying by those in authority and power in the bud,” Strand said. “We can’t have it both ways.”

Strand added that “our children deserve better” and suggested Florida could “learn” from Fargo Public Schools and “perhaps some professionals who feel oppressed or stifled could look at our communities for future career paths.”

“We’d welcome them with open arms,” Strand said.

DeSantis signed the parental rights bill, which bans teachers from giving classroom instruction on “sexual orientation” or “gender identity” in kindergarten through third grade, in March.

Democrats across the country have slammed the legislation, including President Joe Biden, who called the bill “hateful.”

In July, a group of Florida families represented by the Southern Poverty Law Center, Lambda Legal, Southern Legal Counsel, and private counsel Baker McKenzie filed a lawsuit attempting to block the legislation.

Categories: Local News, North Dakota News