Over 200 academics have signed an open letter calling on the Equality and Human Rights Commission to intervene at universities where staff and students who uphold the reality of biological sex have suffered “bullying, harassment and no-platforming”.
In a letter to The Sunday Times, they said: “Universities are creating an intimidating and hostile environment for staff and students who recognise that sex matters” and “many university leaders lack the courage or capacity to tackle the problem”.
The academics cited figures from the organisation Sex Matters which has “logged 80 news reports of bullying, harassment and no-platforming at UK universities”. This just includes cases which have been reported in the media.
‘Silenced and shunned’
Several signatories have personally experienced such bullying.
Professor Jo Phoenix, Chair in Criminology at The Open University, was ill with PTSD after 360 of her colleagues signed a petition against her research network which also discusses transgenderism.
She said: “What’s happening to me has broken my heart. I have been silenced and shunned within my department. I have been made to feel like a pariah and have become very ill.”
The academics also expressed support for Professor Kathleen Stock OBE of Sussex University who was recently targeted by transgender activists for upholding the reality of biological sex.
Prof Stock said: “It’s not ‘hate’ to believe you can’t change sex, or to worry about the effects of life-altering drugs on kids, or to think that inner identity should not determine a male’s access to women’s changing rooms, refuges, prisons, or sports.
“These continue to be my beliefs, argued for in my research, and I am entitled to hold them.”
David Ruebain, Sussex University’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Culture, Equality and Inclusion, commented: “The university has a responsibility to support the fundamental principle of academic freedom” and “act firmly and promptly in response to bullying and harassment of anyone in our community”.
Last week, Baroness Falkner of Margravine, who chairs the Equality and Human Rights Commission, wrote: “The attacks on Professor Kathleen Stock and the campaign to have her fired are disgraceful. Sussex University is right to investigate these attacks and to defend academic freedom of speech.”
She added that “university is a place where we are exposed to ideas and learn to debate with each other”.