The University of South Florida student government has passed a resolution that “strongly urges” the school to deny future requests from state officials regarding gender-affirming care until they explain how the information is to be used.
The resolution expressed disappointment over a January letter from Gov. Ron DeSantis’ budget office requiring Florida’s 12 state universities to submit detailed information on all gender-affirming care they provided since 2018. USF responded to the request on Feb. 10.
The resolution passed 17-2 last week, with one student senator abstaining, and was sent to USF President Rhea Law and the university board of trustees on Sunday.
It says the governor’s request did not seek consent from the individuals whose information was shared and did not include an explanation for why the data was requested. It said because some of the categories would have single-digit answers, “the aggregation and anonymization of this data does not represent appropriate privacy protections.”
The resolution also calls on the university to “continue providing resources and support” for transgender students “to mitigate any harm this memo may have caused.”
It says, “The USF Student Government pledges to stand in solidarity with our transgender peers and to take a stand against all forms of discrimination, harassment, and violence.”
Jonathon Chavez, a member of Stand for Freedom, a group that has organized protests and a petition asking USF not to comply with the request, was an author of the resolution. An earlier version had received a tie vote, but Chavez said he believed it gained support after senators saw support building for the protests and on the petition.
“Even though this data was sent, we did get some action statement after the fact, which was not what we wanted but still a great showing of the Student Government at USF that they still have the backs of the students,” said Chavez, who is also a member of College Democrats.
“I think it shows the average student is not fully on board with the changes and proposals that the state of Florida and our governor are making,” he said.
Andy Pham, a USF student with the Trans+ Student Union who was also an author of the bill, said he was glad the resolution passed but noted that USF Student Government “is not the seat of power.”
He said the Legislature’s actions — from a proposed ban on gender-affirming care by state entities, to measures limiting lessons on history — have been anxiety-inducing.
”It’s debilitating to try to go through your schooling knowing that your population is next in line for this attack on bodily autonomy,” Pham said. “Even if a lot of trans people don’t seek out these services, there are a lot of us that depend on it. It helps me maintain my physical and mental health.”
USF spokesperson Althea Johnson said Law received the resolution and will review it.
Divya Kumar covers higher education for the Tampa Bay Times, in partnership with Open Campus.