Once again, Florida makes national news. This time it's over a lawsuit against Valencia College in Orlando, claiming that students in the school's sonography program were forced to undergo routine transvaginal ultrasounds, in which a large probe is inserted into a woman's vagina, or be kicked out of the program and "blacklisted" from working at Central Florida hospitals. Here are the main points made in the suit:
1. According to the lawsuit, faculty believed that "students should undergo invasive transvaginal ultrasound procedures in order to become better sonography technicians." However, men can be sonography technicians, and the suit claims there were
male students in the class. Obviously, the men wouldn't have to undergo a vaginal ultrasound.
2. Even though one of the male students wasn't forced to submit to invasive medical procedures as part of his course, the suit says that he was one of the students who was told to practice the transvaginal ultrasounds on women in the class.
3. The suit says there was a second-year student in the program who was nicknamed the "TransVag Queen," and she allegedly told her fellow students that transvaginal probes were used on students, but that it was a voluntary practice – nobody would be forced to take part.
4. However, the suit claims, when students said they didn't want to undergo the procedure, they were allegedly told that they could "find another school" if they didn't wish to participate.
5. Students were forced to undergo these transvaginal ultrasounds every week, the suit says. Every week!
6. Valencia has anatomically correct simulators on hand for students to practice on. Yet, the suit says that the school made students to practice on one another instead.
7. This is a medical illustration showing what transvaginal ultrasound equipment looks like and how it works. This illustration was part of the lawsuit. You decide whether you think this is something that students should be forced to undergo:
8. The suit claims there was no privacy for the students being probed. Instead, they were told to take their clothes off in the bathroom and come out draped in a towel, then head to one of several sonograph stations, where they underwent the procedure in front of all the other students and instructors in the classroom. According to a figure from the lawsuit, the setup looked like this:
9. This is how the lawsuit describes what would happen to the female students:
"A student would place a condom over the probe and then apply generous amounts of lubrication to the probe. In some cases, the student would have to sexually 'stimulate' plaintiffs in order to facilitate inserting the probe into plaintiffs' vaginas. Plaintiffs experienced discomfort and embarrassment each time they had to endure this forced probing of their sexual organs."
10. All students in the program had "clinical practice at Central Florida hospitals where plaintiffs practiced upon actual patients in a medical setting," according to the suit. So there really was no need to force unwilling students to undergo the procedures, since students had actual patients to work with.
Valencia made a statement about the situation, indicating that the use of volunteers for medical sonography is a "nationally accepted practice." And "volunteers" is the key word here.
"Valencia College’s sonography program has upheld the highest standards with respect to ultrasound scanning for educational purposes, including voluntary participation and professional supervision by faculty in a controlled laboratory setting," the college said. "Nonetheless, we continue to review this practice and others to ensure that they are effective and appropriate for the learning environment.”
Interestingly, the lawsuit also claims that although the school has ended its practice of having students work on one another (at least for now), instructors in the program "conspired to have students petition Valencia State College to reinstate its policy of coerced vaginal probing of female students. Plaintiffs believe defendants may 'reboot' their policies of coerced vaginal probing of students after the furor of this case dies down unless this court enters and [sic] order forbidding the practice of forcing unwilling students to undergo state-mandated reproductive organ probing."
Read the full lawsuit in PDF form at the link below.