North Dakota finally pulls the trigger.

It's a blockbuster trade that's been in the works for years. Fargo has been a liberal outlier in North Dakota for as long as anyone can remember. A literal burr in the red butt of conservative North Dakota.  The state has been patient with the outspoken city primarily because of our love of NDSU Bison football.

But North Dakota loves the Pledge of Allegiance more than the Thundering Herd.

Last week the Fargo School Board voted 7-2 to halt the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance at their meeting citing that "One nation, under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all" does not align with the districts diversity code.  Needless to say, North Dakota and the nation lost their minds over this.  Pretty sure most folks saw this as pulling the Pledge from all Fargo schools. As I understand it's just for their School Board meetings. Made me think if anyone has ever said the Pledge before any business meeting I've ever attended. I don't believe anyone ever has.

Governor Doug Burgum, spotting a political goldmine, hopped on the Save the Pledge bandwagon throwing a little extra fuel on the fire. But it turns out the so-called Gateway To The West city has plenty of its own tinder to fan the flames.

So what did Fargo do now?

It's not the city's fault that the Fargo Public School District Superintendent is such a disruptive little scallywag.  It seems Superintendent Rupak Ghandi is sending recruitment letters to disgruntled teachers in Florida that are leaving their positions in droves because of new Florida mandates.  In the letter, which you can read in its entirety below, Ghandi is selling North Dakota as a haven for free thinkers. Here's a quick blurb...

“We are doing the work, doggedly moving toward our goal of being that place, where the uniqueness of everyone is honored and diverse backgrounds, values, and points of view aren’t only accepted but actively embraced,”

Now to me, that sounds pretty admirable and ambitious.  To many North Dakotans, all they read there was CRITICAL RACE THEORY.  So instead of just sending Fargo to bed without supper, North Dakota finally made that call to Minnesota and made the blockbuster deal!

Fargo heads to Minnesota and North Dakota to get Bemidji the recreation wonderland!

I'm pretty sure Crookston, Minnesota would have to be a part of the swap as well.  At the time of writing this report, the additional "two lakes to be mentioned later" that North Dakota will also receive have not yet been disclosed. My daughter lives in Fargo so I feel bad that she's going to start getting taxed like a socialist, but these are the sacrifices we sometimes have to make when Fargo wanders too far from the flock.

Here's the letter sent to Florida teachers.

My thanks to the website My Dakotan for making this available. It's a nifty North Dakota news site and I'd suggest bookmarking it. So if you want to fully understand the final straw that led North Dakota into divorce court with our largest city...go ahead and give it a read.


Dear Florida Educators,

You don’t know us, so we’ll start with this important statement: we are way OK with saying gay, or straight, or LGBTQ+. Though we have a long way to go to become a fully inclusive community, we believe it is an injustice to diminish any individual’s gender identity in any way. People should be welcomed to show up as their authentic selves!

This letter is authored by the following individuals:

1) Dr. Rupak Gandhi, Superintendent, Fargo Public Schools

2) Dr. Tamara Uselman, Director of Equity and Inclusion, Fargo Public Schools

3) John Strand, City of Fargo City Commissioner, and former 8-year Fargo Public School Board member

4) Representative Josh Boschee, Minority Caucus Leader, ND House of Representatives, District 44

The purpose of our letter is two-fold: 1) to demonstrate support for Florida’s LGBTQ+ education community in response to Florida HB 1577; and 2) to share an opportunity to be embraced, welcomed, and celebrated here in Fargo, North Dakota for individuals struggling with what must be a very difficult decision about whether to stay or to leave Florida for a more supportive community. We don’t expect nor want educators to leave their state (or their warmth), but if they decide to do so, we want to share what you can expect from your supporters in North Dakota.

This letter shouldn’t imply that the Fargo community and Fargo Public Schools (FPS) are perfectly inclusive. Progress has been made, but there is more work to do. And hear us when we say we are doing the work, doggedly moving toward our goal of being “that place,” where the uniqueness of everyone is honored and diverse backgrounds, values, and points of view aren’t only accepted but actively embraced. With one of every ten North Dakota students attending Fargo Public Schools, we know we can improve outcomes for LGBTQ+ students and staff. We can build a place where all students can live as active agents in their diverse society and where all educators experience a workplace where they can live as their authentic selves.

Collective efforts are building a stronger and more inclusive community and schools and in Fargo. The following information in this letter is to provide a glimpse of what you can expect both from Fargo Public Schools as an employer and from allies in government leadership, should you choose to be an educator here in Fargo, where you can be you, with us.

• Prior to the start of the 2020-2021 school year, Fargo Public Schools became the first school district in the state of North Dakota to hire a Director of Equity and Inclusion. This act was the start to a more concentrated effort to align district resources and priorities in ensuring we are fulfilling our mission of educating and empowering ALL students to succeed.

• In Fargo Public Schools, we believe that equity is a mindset, not an end-state. That means we will always work to improve outcomes where we have evidence that some groups are being marginalized.

• A five-year plan guides the large goals of our FPS Office of Equity and Inclusion.

• The Fargo School District was the first school district in the state of North Dakota to implement fully enumerated anti-bullying and discrimination policies for staff and students, raising the bar for the others in the state to see.

• The City of Fargo recently was the first city in the state of North Dakota to enact hate crime bills at the city level, again raising the bar for others in the state to see and on the local level for us to adhere to.

• As a border city to Moorhead, Minnesota, Fargo can compare and contrast growth toward equity and inclusion both in our state and with our neighbors across the river.

• We are proud that the City of Fargo was one of the first in the nation to incorporate an LGBT liaison within the Police Department to build stronger relationships with the LGBT community and training within the Police Department, which has expanded into community liaisons focused on various underrepresented groups.

• While we have worked actively, since 2009, to pass a fully inclusive statewide nondiscrimination statute, progress has been made. The state Department of Labor and Human Rights recognizes sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes in housing and employment following the Bostock ruling in 2020.

• 2021 was the first-time anti-LGBT legislation was introduced by legislators in ND. While a ban on trans youth being able to participate in youth sports did pass that session, Governor Burgum vetoed the legislation, and the veto was sustained by the state Senate. Thanks to the advocacy of our local chambers of commerce, travel and tourism industry, employers from throughout the state and citizens, our Governor knows the value that each individual brings to making our state a success.

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.

Reach out if you have any questions or wish to learn more.

Sincerely yours,

Dr. Rupak Gandhi

Dr. Tamara Uselman

Commissioner John Strand

ND House of Representatives, Joshua Bosche

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