TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis is asking state universities for the number and ages of students who have sought treatment for gender dysphoria, including sex-reassignment surgery and hormone prescriptions, according to a survey released Wednesday.
Why he is conducting the survey is not entirely clear. DeSantis has been criticized by LGBTQ advocates for policies seen as discriminatory, including prohibition of teaching sexual and gender identity in junior grades and make it easier for parents remove books related to the topic in public schools.
“We’re seeing cuts in funding for universities to treat students with this condition, and I think the complete elimination of services is definitely on the table,” House Democratic Leader Fentress Driskell said.
The poll was released on the same day university presidents voted to support DeSantis’ anti-Awakening agenda and abandon a “progressive education agenda in higher education” and pledged to “remove all Awakened positions and ideologies by February 1, 2023.” Department of Education news release.
DeSantis’ director of budgeting, Chris Spencer, is sending the survey to the university’s board of trustees.
“Our office has become aware that several public universities provide services to individuals with gender dysphoria,” Spencer wrote. – On behalf of the governor, I ask you to respond to the attached requests related to such services.”
The governor’s office did not respond to emails and phone calls seeking information about the goals of the survey, which is due by Feb. 10. Spencer told the chairmen that the survey must be completed as part of their commitment to steward institutional resources and protect the public interest.
Driskell said DeSantis is trying to remake the state’s universities “in his image” in terms of what can be taught and how students are treated.
“I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s a really terrible place we’re in in Florida history,” Driskell said. “What could happen is a brain drain if Florida students don’t want to stay here and attend school at our public colleges and universities.”
The survey is similar to one Governor forces state universities to end spending on diversity, equity and inclusion and critical racial theory programs.
In the current memo, universities are asked to “provide the number of encounters with gender reassignment treatment or where such treatment was sought,” as well as data on students referred to other institutions. It says to protect the identity of students when filling out information.
The survey asks for a breakdown by age, whether the student is 18 or older, people who have been prescribed hormones or hormone antagonists, or who have undergone medical procedures such as mastectomy, breast augmentation, or genital removal and reconstruction.