Students at several Florida universities are planning a statewide walkout after school officials handed over data about transgender students’ health care to Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.
As confirmed by Insider on Thursday, at least six universities have complied with the governor’s demand, delivering anonymized information on all students who had received medical attention for gender dysphoria through school-funded medical facilities over the past five years. DeSantis’ Policy and Budget director Chris Spencer sent the requests last month, giving the schools until February 10 to hand over the data, including how many people had sought gender-affirming surgeries and hormone therapy.
Now, students at the six colleges that are to known to have acquiesced — University of Florida, Florida State University, University of Central Florida, Florida A&M University, Florida International University, and the University of North Florida — are organizing a mass walkout at noon on February 23, rallying under the banner Stand for Freedom FL and led by University of South Florida junior Ben Braver.
Per Spencer’s memo, the data is being collected as part of the governor’s usual responsibility to make sure “institutional resources” being used appropriately and “protecting the public interest.” But advocates say the request is likely yet another attempt to outlaw gender-affirming care in Florida; DeSantis stated in his second inaugural address he would examine “the amount of public funding that is going toward such nonacademic pursuits” as providing healthcare to trans students, “to best assess how to get our colleges and universities refocused on education and truth” — his version of it, anyway.
“Hate is spread when it's innocuous, when it seems silly, and when it seems like taking a stand is an overreaction," Braver, who is also an officer of USF’s College Democrats, told Insider. "We, just like any generation, need to stand for the civil rights that have already been fought for, the ones that have been won, and those which are at stake right now."