Students encouraged to pass 'Q Cards' to campus doctors to avoid 'cultural homophobia'

FSU has been offering the 'Q Cards' since 2017 as a way for students to express their preferred pronouns and sexual orientation during medical visits.

The group behind the cards states that, 'The history of healthcare in this country is unfortunately tied up in many forms of oppressions (racism, sexism, cissexism, heterosexism, ageism, ableism, etc.) which carry through to today.'

Since 2017, Florida State University has offered “Q Cards” at its wellness center for student patients to express their sexual orientation and preferred pronouns. 

The optional cards ask those checking in to provide their preferred name, pronouns, sexual orientation, and gender identity. 

The bottom of the card also declares that LGBTQ youth may suffer from various health and social problems due to “cultural homophobia and stigma,” including: depression, smoking, drugs, “Intersecting oppressions,” “Religion,” “Housing,” and “Family acceptance,” among others. 

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Although the cards were first purchased by FSU six years ago, public awareness of the school’s usage has increased after an initial report by Florida’s Voice, as well as Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ efforts to combat progressive ideologies in schools.

“The Q Card is a communication tool designed to help LGBTQ+ youth take charge of their health and talk to their providers about their identities,” states the product’s website. “At Q Card Project, we believe that all queer/trans youth deserve quality, sensitive healthcare that meets their needs, recognizes their agency, and empowers them to be active participants in their health.”

The Q Cards are listed at a starting cost of $8 for 10 cards.

Another item for sale on the website is the Gender Card, which costs $10 for 10 cards.

“The Gender Card is specifically designed for transgender and gender non-conforming people to help them feel safer and advocate for their needs in healthcare visits,” the web page states.

Launched in 2012, the Q Card Project was founded by Genya Shimkin, an Assistant Teaching Professor and Family Medicine and Adjunct Assistant Teaching Professor at the University of Washington. While a master’s student, Shimkin worked with a classmate to “create a simple communication tool that could improve healthcare for queer youth.”

According to the group’s LinkedIn page: “The history of healthcare in this country is unfortunately tied up in many forms of oppressions (racism, sexism, cissexism, heterosexism, ageism, ableism, etc.) which carry through to today, and often make it harder for queer/trans* communities- and especially queer/trans* youth- to access and navigate healthcare systems and services.”

The Q Card Project claims to have sold over 150,000 cards to those in 33 states and 4 countries.

The group also partners with libraries to donate free Q Cards to low-income families, small schools, and non-profit organizations. 

[Related: Students get Gender Diversity residential area, other transgender services]

FSU’s Turning Point USA Secretary Nicole Kelly told Campus Reform that she disagrees with her school’s promotion of the cards, suggesting that doing so “dangerously [conflates] medical care with a particular social ideology (i.e., the emphasis of sexual identity labels and the reference to intersectional theory).” 

She also mentioned that she has not seen anyone carrying the card at the wellness center’s check-in area, and explained that the cards’ invoking of “Intersecting oppressions” points to the concept of intersectionality, which “dangerously amplifies and codifies tensions between different social groups.” 

Campus Reform has contacted all the organizations and individuals in the article; this story will be updated accordingly.