More than 3600 academics have come out in support of trans rights, after 30 lecturers called on universities to cut ties with LGBT+ charity Stonewall.
The Sunday Times published a letter on June 16 from 30 academics, led by ‘gender critical’ campaigner Dr Kathleen Stock, calling for universities to “sever their links” with Stonewall, one of the UK’s most respected LGBT+ charities.
30 academics called for universities to cut ties with Stonewall
The letter claimed that Stonewall’s work is “in tension with academic freedom” because the charity calls for a trans-inclusive stance in education and opposes “transphobic” teaching and research material.
It claimed the charity was responsible for an “intimidating atmosphere” in academia by running Diversity Champions training, and accused the charity of presenting “tendentious and anti-scientific claims as objective fact.”
The letter also criticised the charity’s support for affirming trans children, and claimed accused Stonewall of pursuing a “new doctrine that female-attracted trans women with penises are lesbians.”
However, the 30 academics who were willing to put their names to the letter from universities across the UK have faced a backlash from more than 3600 of their colleagues.
3600 academics back trans-inclusive policies
The counter-letter, organised by the University of Sheffield’s Dr Caroline Dodds Pennock, rebuts the attacks on Stonewall.
It states: “As academics and other colleagues working in higher education, we are writing to register our support for policies and practices which are inclusive and supportive of our trans colleagues and students.”
The letter adds: “Criticism and critique of policies and programmes that promote inclusiveness, such as Stonewall Diversity Champions, are not in and of themselves unwelcome.
“As educators, we have a duty of care to our students and colleagues.”
— 3600 academics
“Such things are products of dialogue and discussion, and they evolve over the course of this dialogue. However, the primary concern must be with the wellbeing of the people subject to those policies.
“The vulnerability of the LGBTQIA+ community, especially young people and those who are transgender or gender-diverse, is well documented. As educators, we have a duty of care to our students and colleagues.
“Respect for their gender identity and/or sexuality is an integral aspect of that duty of care. It is inconceivable that this duty should be considered antithetical to ‘academic freedom’.
“Rather, ignoring or denying it precludes our fellow academics and colleagues — be they undergraduate students, postgraduate candidates, early career researchers, lecturers, professional-services staff or innumerable others — from experiencing a secure and supportive environment safely to pursue their own freedom.”
The letter concludes: “We support the rights of colleagues to free speech, and safe debate, but until all LGBTQIA+ people can live, work and learn in our universities without fear or intimidation, it is vital that we stand up and say that we support the rights of trans and other gender-diverse people to be who they are.”