DeSantis continues probing for info about diversity-related initiatives and trans healthcare at Florida public colleges

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click to enlarge He'll throw the book at ya. - Photo by Joey Roulette
Photo by Joey Roulette
He'll throw the book at ya.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has spent the beginning of 2023 making waves in higher education, including getting answers this week from universities about spending on diversity, equity and inclusion programs.

Meanwhile, DeSantis’ administration requested broad information from universities about services provided to transgender people.

The answers from the state’s 12 universities about spending on programs and other expenses related to diversity, equity and inclusion were made public Tuesday. The responses showed that universities spend millions of dollars on the initiatives — expenditures that the governor’s office has pledged to review as DeSantis targets “trendy ideology” on campus.

Chris Spencer, director of DeSantis’ Office of Planning and Budget, sent a memo Dec. 28 to leaders of the university and college systems seeking the information, including a breakdown of how much money for the programs comes from the state.

The University of Florida, the state’s flagship university, reported spending $5.3 million on diversity-related programs and expenses, with nearly $3.4 million flowing from the state. The university listed 43 staff positions connected to the efforts.

For example, the university’s Office of the Chief Diversity Officer includes four staff positions and costs the school $1,085,485, with about $785,000 coming from the state.

Universities also listed course offerings in response to the DeSantis administration’s inquiry.

A Florida Atlantic University course called “Gender and Climate Change” uses $10,000 in state funding.

Spencer noted in the Dec. 28 memo that the information was being collected as DeSantis gears up to make budget proposals, so that “we have a full understanding of the operational expenses of state institutions.”

In a separate memo that became public Wednesday, Spencer required universities to answer a lengthy list of questions related to transgender people, including numbers of people who sought “sex-reassignment” treatment.

The memo said the governor’s office “has learned that several state universities provide services to persons suffering from gender dysphoria.”

The inquiry also requires universities to report the numbers of people prescribed such things as hormones and puberty blockers, numbers of people who underwent surgical treatments such as mastectomies, and breakdowns of that information by age.

Similar to the directive about diversity-related initiatives, the memo and an accompanying document did not detail what the DeSantis administration will do with the information about transgender treatments. Universities are required to provide answers by Feb. 10.

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