Stonewall’s new Chief Executive has been implicated in the ‘no-platforming’ of a respected researcher, who said people should not be able to choose their own sex on the 2021 census.
Nancy Kelley is also currently Deputy Chief Executive of NatCen, a research body linked to the Office of National Statistics (ONS) which proposed the controversial census question. She became Stonewall’s new Chief Executive earlier this month.
The Times newspaper reports that NatCen cancelled an event featuring Dr Alice Sullivan, professor of sociology at University College London, after LGBT members complained she held “anti-trans views”.
Dr Sullivan had been due to speak at a seminar in April but the event was cancelled. The academic was told it was “too risky” for her to attend and another speaker threatened to pull out if she were present.
But emails circulated among NatCen’s leadership team at the time said the research body suggested that Dr Sullivan should “not take part or that the event be cancelled”.
The Times reports that the emails also stated that “including Sullivan as a panellist could be seen as NatCen endorsing anti-trans views, risking reputational damage and perhaps more importantly risking harm to staff and audience members”.
Dr Sullivan commented: “It is troubling that Nancy Kelley appears implicated in cancelling a research methods seminar rather than allowing an open discussion”.
She said: “I hope that developing a better understanding of how this culture of silencing on gender issues works will help universities and research organisations to recognise what is going on and take a more robust approach to defending scientific prerogatives.”
Dr Sullivan added: “Trans activists have brought no-platforming and silencing of mainstream views into organisations that should know better. It is far more widespread than people realise.”
In December, dozens of academics voiced their concerns over the ‘choose your own sex’ question proposed for the 2021 census.
Under draft guidance for the “What is your sex?” question, the ONS will allow people to give their preferred option instead of biological reality.
More than 80 senior academics signed the letter to the census authorities, many from Oxbridge and Russell Group universities.
NatCen claimed that Dr Sullivan was not no-platformed, saying the research body no longer felt it “appropriate” to hold the event instead. Stonewall and Nancy Kelley declined to give comment to The Times.