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Florida’s governor Ron DeSantis makes chilling demand for personal details of trans students

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Ron DeSantis with US flag

Florida’s Republican governor Ron DeSantis has demanded state universities share the personal details of trans students. 

According to a survey issued last week, DeSantis has asked for the number and ages of students who sought gender-dysphoria treatment, including sex-reassignment surgery and hormone prescriptions. 

The memo requests that universities “provide the number of encounters for sex-reassignment treatment or where such treatment was sought” as well as data for students referred to other facilities.

It isn’t known why DeSantis is conducting the survey, but it follows him bringing in Florida’s horrific “Don’t Say Gay” law, which prevents the teaching or instruction of sexual orientation or gender identity to youngsters in kindergarten and up to year three.

House Democratic leader Fentrice Driskell, said: “We can see cuts in funding for universities to treat students with this condition, and I think an all-out elimination of services is certainly on the table.” 

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She added that DeSantis is trying to remake the state’s universities “in his own image” as far as what can be taught and how students can be treated.

“I’ve never seen anything like this. It’s a really terrifying place that we’re at in Florida history. 

“What can happen is a brain drain where we have Florida students not wanting to stay here and attend school at our public colleges and universities.”  

A photo of Florida governor Ron DeSantis wearing a dark suit, white shirt and red tie standing in front of the American flag
Ron DeSantis has a history of acting against LGBTQ+ rights. (Getty Images/Octavio Jones)

The release date of the survey coincided with university presidents voting to support DeSantis’ anti-woke agenda. The agenda aims to reject “progressivist higher education indoctrination” and commit to “removing all woke positions and ideologies” by February next year, according to the Department of Education.

The survey, which says it protects students’ identities when completing the information, will be sent to the university board of trustee chairmen by DeSantis’ budget director, Chris Spencer.

“Our office has learned that several state universities provide services to persons suffering from gender dysphoria,” Spencer wrote.

“On behalf of the governor, I hereby request that you respond to the enclosed inquiries related to such services.”  

Spencer told the chairmen that completing the survey, which must be done by 10 February, is part of their obligation to govern institutional resources and protect the public interest.

DeSantis’ re-election was terrifying for LGBTQ+ Americans

The survey is similar to Texas Republican attorney general Ken Paxton demanding a list of every trans person in the state. 

At the end of last year, Paxton ordered the state Department of Public Safety to compile a list of individuals who had changed their gender on department records in the past two years.

Texas attorney general Ken Paxton superimposed against a backdrop of LGBTQ+ activists
Texas’ attorney general Ken Paxton has a long history of attacks on the trans community. (Getty/Splash)

In an email to the department’s driving licence division, demands were made for “the total number of changes from male to female and female to male for the [past] 24 months, broken down by month”.

It also follows DeSantis being condemned for banning African American studies classes at Florida high schools. 

Many have accused the governor of going from “Don’t Say Gay” to “Don’t Say Black”, with Florida state senator Shevrin Jones, who is Black, saying DeSantis was “whitewashing” history, which was an “assault on American history and our First Amendment rights”.

The “Don’t Say Gay” bill bans LGBTQ+ topics from being discussed in classrooms, either by school staff or third parties, for the youngest children. After third grade, these topics must be “age appropriate”, but that term is not defined.

It also mandates that school staff must out students to their potentially unsupportive families, stating that parents must be notified if there is any change in a “student’s mental, emotional, or physical health or well-being”. The only exception is “if a reasonably prudent person would believe that disclosure would result in abuse, abandonment, or neglect”.

Ron DeSantis with the White House inserted into the background
Florida Republican governor Ron DeSantis. (Getty/ Octavio Jones)

Since his re-election as governor in the US midterm elections last year, many expect DeSantis to run for president in 2024, a worrying thought for America’s LGBTQ+ community.

Former president Donald Trump has already announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination and although DeSantis has cautiously avoided the question, he is widely seen as Trump’s most powerful rival.

Following the midterms, DeSantis is in a better position than ever – in fact, Trump appears so threatened that he issued a warning on the day of the elections (8 November), saying he would reveal “things” about the Florida governor “that won’t be very flattering” should he run for president.

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