Ron DeSantis requested the information of trans students who sought care at Florida's public universities. Now students are planning a statewide walkout.

Students at USF gather on USfF campus
Students at the University of South Florida gather to protest the request.Justin Blanco
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  • Ron DeSantis told all public universities in Florida to hand over medical data on services performed related to gender dysphoria.

  • Insider has confirmed six of the 12 universities have complied with the request.

  • Now, college students across the state are planning a walkout to protest the governor's request.

Students across Florida are planning a statewide walkout after Gov. Ron DeSantis requested all public universities comply in delivering data from student health services on transgender students who sought gender-affirming care at the institutions.

DeSantis asked to see a breakdown of the medical data of students who received gender-affirming care from public entities. This includes anyone in the general public who sought gender-affirming care at the hospitals located at these public universities. In addition, he wants their ages and the dates they received gender-affirming care. The deadline to submit those records was February 10.

Insider has confirmed that University of Florida, Florida State University, University of Central Florida, Florida A&M University, Florida International University, and the University of North Florida have complied with the request, but has yet to hear back from the rest.

Students at these universities are now planning rallies for next week along with the statewide walkout on February 23. Ben Braver, a junior at the University of South Florida and the outreach officer for the school's College Democrats chapter, is leading the initiative, known as the Stand for Freedom Florida Walkout.

"Hate is spread when it's innocuous, when it seems silly, and when it seems like taking a stand is an overreaction," Braver 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."

Andy Pham, a senior and long-standing member of the University of South Florida's Trans+ Student Union, said he sees the state's move as a direct attack on trans rights.

"They want to legislate us out of existence," Pham said. "That starts with attacking our healthcare, attacking our right to exist in public spaces, attempting surveillance — all of that."

In January, 20 students at the University of South Florida held a rally protesting DeSantis' request. They then started an online petition asking the school's administration not to submit the medical information. The petition received over 2,600 signatures, but officials at the school said they plan to send over the records anyway. Insider hasn't been able to confirm whether the University of South Florida sent over the data.

"As a state university, USF has an obligation to be responsive to requests from our elected officials," the university said in a statement, according to WUSF. "However, the university will not provide information that identifies an individual patient or violates patient privacy laws."

Among those signing on to support the walkout are the Dream Defenders, Florida College Democrats, state lawmaker Anna Eskamani, and 26-year-old Congressman Maxwell Frost.

"The governor's abusing his power," Frost told Insider. "He's targeting folks that disagree with him — people who might not see eye to eye with him, marginalized communities."

When Insider asked why the state has requested the health data of transgender college students from public universities, the state's deputy press secretary, Jeremy Redfern, said: "We are committed to fully understanding the amount of public funding that is going toward such nonacademic pursuits to best assess how to get our colleges and universities refocused on education and truth."

Eskamani said DeSantis should prepare for student backlash.

"When students see the visual representation of their peers around them standing up and walking out, they're going to get plugged in and help us fight back," she said. "That will happen."

Correction: February 16, 2023 —  This story has been updated to reflect what DeSantis' office requested from colleges. They asked for data from public entities and not medical records. We've also corrected the attribution to the quote from the Governor's office to come from his press secretary and not the governor himself. 

Read the original article on Insider