A group of 16 attorneys general have called out Florida Governor Ron DeSantis for a plan to collect information on students who seek gender-affirming care on college campuses.
The governing body for Florida’s state university system, the Board of Governors, requested in January that higher education institutions submit reports on any students who go to campus health centers for gender dysphoria. The institutions would have to say whether people asked for, were referred for, or were provided with “sex-reassignment treatment” and how many people were diagnosed with a gender identity disorder. The reports are also supposed to include how many people underwent a gender-reaffirming surgery and a breakdown of patients by age.
“This information request may be intended to intimidate, and will actually intimidate, university administrators and health care providers and chill vulnerable students … from accessing necessary medical care,” the attorneys general wrote in the letter to DeSantis on Friday. “Public reports suggest that you may seek to use the information sought to eliminate funding for necessary gender-affirming health care for students.”
“Such actions jeopardize the health, safety and well-being of young people and their families, contravene well-accepted medical standards, unduly insert the state into the provider-patient relationship, violate students’ rights under federal law—including privacy—and offend basic human rights.”
DeSantis has cracked down on LGBTQ rights in his state, pushing through the “Don’t Say Gay” bill and banning transgender girls from playing girls’ sports. He cut off funding under Medicaid for gender-affirming treatment and asked the state board of medicine to ban any such treatment for people under 18.
The Board of Governors said that any information submitted would be kept anonymous, but asking for the students’ breakdown by age would help identify any organizations that provide gender-affirming treatment to younger patients.
In a similar vein, the Florida High School Athletics Association will require high school student athletes to tell their schools their sex assigned at birth. Critics worry the newly added question—and before it, a proposed requirement that students share details on their menstrual history—could be used to out transgender students.
The Board of Governors’ proposal is the latest in a wave of state-level policy moves targeting LGBTQ people, particularly trans people, across the country. Lawmakers usually argue they are trying to protect children’s well-being, but a study published in January found that trans and nonbinary teenagers who receive gender-affirming care have significantly less depression and anxiety and are more satisfied with their lives than before treatment. However, laws that single out trans people expose them to more violence.