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Recent bills spark outrage among FAU, FIU students

Editor’s Notes: A past version of this article misstated the month SB266 and HB999 were signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis. Senior history major Ximena Dipietro started hormone therapy at FAU Student Health Services (SHS) six months ago, receiving a 4mg dose of estradiol and a 200mg dose of spironolactone. The prescribing doctor informed Dipietro that...

Editor’s Notes: A past version of this article misstated the month SB266 and HB999 were signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Senior history major Ximena Dipietro started hormone therapy at FAU Student Health Services (SHS) six months ago, receiving a 4mg dose of estradiol and a 200mg dose of spironolactone.

The prescribing doctor informed Dipietro that she may be among the last to receive this particular type of care. 

“It’s disheartening,” said Dipietro. “The school I pay good money for isn’t going to continue supporting my medical needs.”

Gov. Ron Desantis’ approval of a series of anti-LGBTQ bills, encompassing issues such as bathroom usage, limitations on gender-affirming treatments, and the “Don’t Say Gay” bill has rankled Dipietro and other students at universities across Florida.

Dipietro, who identifies as bigender, is contemplating a career change in response to legislation and the negative stigma associated with transgender individuals that it conveys. 

“Diversity of thoughts in education is needed, especially in a democratic society,” Dipietro said. “I used to want to be a high school history teacher, but now being a transgender person in any form of public education is scarier than it was before [the recent bills].”

According to a March 27 article by the Human Rights Campaign, 80% of Americans are in support of laws that protect LGBTQ against discrimination. 

The UP reached out to the Governor’s Office in regard to the rationale behind these bills but did not receive comment by the date of publication. 


Senators Keith Perry and Doug Broxon introduced bill SB 254 and the Florida Senate passed this bill by a vote of 26 to 13. Moreover, the Florida House passed this bill by a sweeping vote of 83 to 23. 

This law, which imposes restrictions on gender-affirming care in Florida, took effect immediately upon Gov. Ron DeSantis signing it later in May. According to three Student Health Services employees, FAU is no longer offering gender-affirming care.

FAU spokesperson Joshua Glanzer did not respond to requests for comment by the time of publication. 

James Capp, FAU’s Assistant Provost for Academic Operations and Planning  responded to the Governor’s Executive Office, addressing gender-affirming care, indicating that 54 individuals have sought or received sex-reassignment treatment. Additionally, seven individuals were prescribed hormones, and two were prescribed hormone antagonists. 

After Florida passed HB 1557, also known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, in 2022, anti-LGBTQ sentiments on social media increased by 406%, according to the Human Rights Campaign in August.

“To go into a classroom to misgender my students; not only is that a risk for them and their lives, but it dismisses my beliefs as I know I wouldn’t have wanted that done to me when I was a student; It’s discrimination and it would also just go against my values,” said a Florida International University (FIU) senior who spoke to the UP on the condition of anonymity due to fear for his safety.

He changed his major from education to English partly because of recent changes to the education system, including HB 1557. Doing so may allow him to reach his goal of leaving the state sooner.

“I changed my major because I could graduate a semester earlier than what I had originally planned and it allowed me to leave,” the student said. “Once I graduate, I plan to move to North Carolina to get my master’s and then I hope to find and move either to a blue state or move to Canada.”

In May, DeSantis signed into law a bill regarding bathroom usage, mandating transgender individuals the use of a restroom that corresponds with their biological sex. 

For transgender and non-binary students around the United States, bills like these are crucial to their livelihood. According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 36% of transgender or non-binary students have reported facing sexual assault in a 12-month span.

“I am envious of other U.S. states or countries that don’t have to be stressing as much about LGBTQIA rights or worried about masking to survive being in Florida,” said FAU senior Jesse Bellevue. Bellevue is the public relations officer for BLISSS (BIPOC LGBTQIA+ Individuals Seeking Safe Spaces), a student organization that seeks to provide a place where students of these groups are supported and safe.

Campus Reactions Throughout Florida

As of fall 2021, FAU discontinued its Center for Inclusion, Diversity Education and Advocacy (IDEAs), a department dedicated to diversity education and training, Black student initiatives, Hispanic and Latino/a initiatives, and LGBTQ initiatives and allyship.

DeSantis signed HB 999 and its companion SB 266 into law in May. The legislation specifically targets departments run by state tax dollars or state funds, ensuring the protection of  student-led organizations .

The bills prohibit public institutions in Florida from funding the promotion, support, or maintenance of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) programs and from offering any general education course that “teaches identity politics, or is based on theories that systemic racism, sexism, oppression, and privilege are inherent in the institutions of the United States.”

“We were in the process of hiring for some of those positions earlier this semester, but we paused that search process,” said Donald Van Pelt, FAU’s assistant vice president of Student Engagement. “We’re waiting to see what the outcome of this legislation will be before we fill any of those positions.”

The Department of Student Engagement held diversity education workshops as well as cultural signature events, including the Festival of Nations, Social Justice Week, Queer Coffee Hour, Ally Week, and the Owl Manor, FAU’s annual drag show, as ways to raise awareness, knowledge, and skills required to include people from different backgrounds equally.

“My hope is that student-led organizations like BLISSS and Lavender Alliance will fill the void the students are missing from the departments that we were providing,” Van Pelt said. 

FAU student Noadia Lindor founded BLISSS in May 2022 with around 30 members. 

“I joined BLISSS because it is an opportunity that future students will be thankful to have as a form of support, especially now with how things are turning for the LGBTQIA community in Florida,” said Bellevue. “I’ve always felt like an outsider with my identities, and I feel less alone being a part of BLISSS.”

In May 2023, DeSantis signed SB 254, a bill prohibiting healthcare professionals from providing gender-affirming care to minors, resulting in  parents facing potential  criminal chargesfor providing children with hormone therapy and other forms of age-specific methods of gender-affirming care. For trans youth, these bills are crucial to their identities.

“School is where I first came out and found the most acceptance from both friends and teachers,” Dipietro said. “I think having that freedom and space that isn’t as repressive as it might be in our households is a necessity.”

According to a 2022 survey by the Trevor Project, a crisis support organization for LGBTQ people, upwards of 60% of transgender youth around the United States experience feelings of depression, and upwards of 40% have considered committing suicide within the past year. 

“These laws will either sustain or increase that number,” Dipietro said. 

Ashby Santoro, a marine biology major at FIU, has recently faced issues finding hormones because of high demand. “It can take six to eight months for a three-month supply to arrive,” Santoro said. To ensure timely access, he opts to pick them up in New York. 

“You don’t even have to be explicitly transgender, but if you are a person with sex development disorders or are intersex, you’re still feeling the repercussions of [new legislation] as well,” shares Ashby. “I don’t produce enough testosterone or estrogen, so if I don’t get that, I’m going to get really sick.”

Looking forward

According to the Human Rights Campaign, Florida’s healthcare laws have led eight in 10 trans and nonbinary adults to start taking steps to move out of the state.

In February of this year, students at the University of South Florida organized a peaceful protest against the anti-trans legislation, specifically against DeSantis’ request regarding information on transgender gender-affirming care and health care.

“We have a lot of different organizations that are still operating on campus despite everything and although we’re a little uncertain of what our future is going to be, it doesn’t seem that this legislation has affected us too much,” Santoro said. “We feel as if we have to walk a bit more on eggshells on how we title the events and how we describe them but so far, we’re still going strong. 

Obstacles persist beyond the age of 18. The same law that bans gender-affirming care for minors also requires adults to go through extra, and sometimes costly, steps to receive care.

“At the moment, adults have access legally to hormones, but the issue is about finding clinics and providers who will provide it for students in need,” Dipietro said. “I have so many other things to worry about, like my career and relationships, and worrying about my medication on top of that is the last thing I should be worried about right now.”

Laurie Mermet and Gabriela Quintero are contributing writers for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email Laurie at or Gabriela at

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