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Opinion: DeSantis Administration’s Latest Memo is Government Overreach at Its Finest

On Jan. 18, 2023, the Florida Governor’s office released a new memo targeted at public universities offering healthcare to transgender students. 

According to the document, schools must supply the government with a variety of information related to gender-affirming care, including how many students were diagnosed with gender dysphoria in school clinics, and how many students sought counseling or referrals for such issues.

Along with these broad numbers, colleges must also provide detailed statistics about students’ ages and assigned sex at birth. The questionnaire states that the information must include data from Jan. 2018 and onward, and should be sent to the Governor’s Office for review by Feb.10. 

The Department of Education states that this measure is part of Governor DeSantis’ attempt to quote, eliminate “the progressivist higher education indoctrination agenda [by] removing all woke positions and ideologies.” 

As to be expected, the mandate raised alarm bells across the state. Florida House Democratic Leader Fentrice Driskell stated that “we can see cuts in funding for universities [that] treat students with this condition, and I think an all-out elimination of services is certainly on the table.” 

As a private school, Rollins is not required to comply with such a mandate, but other schools in our community may be affected. 

The University of Central Florida, Orlando’s largest public college, has a specific Trans Care Services team within their counseling department. According to the group’s mission statement, they “provide support to students who are pursuing gender confirming procedures, specifically documentation for Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT).” 

Ironically, though, most colleges (including UCF and Rollins) do not even offer the kind of services targeted by the questionnaire—that is, HRT, sex reassignment surgery, and puberty blockers. As previously stated, services at universities are limited to outside referrals, documentation of a diagnosis, and talk therapy. Higher levels of care are reserved for community institutions like private hospitals and outpatient medical facilities.

Beyond questions of politics, the intrusiveness of the measure shows a blatant disregard for students’ privacy. As a politician who champions himself as a proponent of small government and free speech, the DeSantis administration’s campaign against trans healthcare spits in the face of both individual liberty and toes the line of more than a handful of HIPAA rules. The memo, however, does advise against any explicit outing of personal identification information, including names and birthdates.

The opinions on this page do not necessarily reflect those of The Sandspur or Rollins College.

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