FARGO, N.D. (WFLA) — A North Dakota school district issued a letter showing support for Florida educators in the wake of HB 1577, or the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill, extending an invitation to move up north and join them.
According to a Valley News Live report, Fargo Public Schools Superintendent, Dr. Rupak Ghandi, and Director of Equity and Inclusion, Dr. Tamara Uselman, authored the letter in April, when the bill originally passed. John Strand, a Fargo City Commissioner, and Josh Boschee, North Dakota House Minority Leader, also signed onto the letter, which has since gained national attention.
“You don’t know us, so we’ll start with this important statement: We are way OK with saying gay, or straight or LGBTQ+.” the letter says.
The letter’s authors said its purpose is two-fold: to support Florida’s LGBTQ+ teaching community and to “share an opportunity to be embraced, welcomed and celebrated here in Fargo” for educators grappling with the “difficult decision whether to stay or leave Florida for a more supportive community”.
The letter detailed why teachers should consider a move to North Dakota’s largest city, including its close proximity to the blue state of Minnesota, its first-in-the-state hate crime laws and the Fargo Police Department’s LGBT liaison. The letter also praised Gov. Doug Burgum for vetoing anti-LGBTQ+ legislation in 2021.
Fargo school officials said they wrote the letter as part of an effort towards inclusion at Fargo Public Schools.
“Inclusion is necessary for Fargo Public Schools to meet its mission to ‘achieve excellence by educating and empowering all students to succeed,” Dr. Ghandi and Dr. Uselman said. The statement went on to say that the letter does not “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.”
“We are always recruiting. We just wanted to share that we are working towards becoming a welcoming environment,” Dr. Ghandi told Valley News Live. “We are proud of the letter and we have nothing to hide behind.”
“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,” Rep. Joshua Boschee told Valley News Live. Boschee became North Dakota’s first openly-gay elected official in 2012.
In response to the letter, Christina Pushaw, Rapid Response Director for Gov. DeSantis’ campaign, tweeted, “Lol bye”.
“If Fargo wants groomers they can have them,” Florida Rep. Joe Harding said. “No sane person would choose to leave Florida to live in North Dakota.”