Florida Students Stage Walkout Over Ron DeSantis’ Anti-Trans, Anti-Diversity Policies

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College students across Florida walked off campus Thursday in response to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ recent policies targeting LGBTQ students and people of color.

The one-hour walkout, organized by the Florida College Democrats and activist group Dream Defenders, involved students at colleges throughout the state, including Florida State University, which is just down the street from the Republican governor’s residence and office at the state Capitol building in Tallahassee.

“He says we are being indoctrinated by wokeness, but we say he is using us in his narrative, and destroying our schools to achieve his vision,” a walkout pledge said of DeSantis, referencing a spate of controversial new directives he’s made in recent months.

“By manipulating Florida’s education system, DeSantis is indoctrinating the youth he’s claiming to protect,” the pledge continued. “He twists our efforts to raise those who have been oppressed into sinister attempts to push others down.”

Among his administration’s most hotly contested actions was a request for Florida universities to hand over information about “persons suffering from gender dysphoria” who’ve received care at campus clinics.

It’s unclear what DeSantis intends to do with this information, which includes the number of individuals who’ve received gender-affirming care and the nature of their treatments. But he’s already overseen several efforts to restrict transgender health care access in Florida, such as banning children from receiving such treatments and prohibiting the use of Medicaid for gender-affirming care.

DeSantis, who’s expected to soon announce a run for the 2024 presidential nomination, also revealed a plan last month to slash the budget for universities’ diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, saying he’s “aligning core curriculum to the values of liberty and the Western tradition” and “eliminating politicized bureaucracies like DEI.”

It’s not yet clear how many students participated in the walkout, but The Gainesville Sun estimated that about 100 people joined the protest at the University of Florida in Gainesville.

Videos from the University of North Florida in Jacksonville showed protesters chanting, “Racist, sexist, anti-gay, Ron DeSantis go away.”

Some Democrats in Florida — namely, U.S. Rep. Maxwell Frost and state Reps. Michele Rayner, Anna Eskamani and Angie Nixon — signed the pledge against DeSantis’ actions, according to the organizations behind the walkout.

“Ron DeSantis has been relentless in his attacks on Florida’s education system, creating hostile classroom environments that target Black, brown, Hispanic, and LGBTQ+ students for simply existing,” Frost told Teen Vogue on Thursday.

DeSantis’ office did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s requests for comment on the walkouts.

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