Trans activists at the University of Sussex have launched a major attempt to have a philosophy professor fired because she has spoken out against radical gender ideology.
A new group, Anti Terf Sussex, has called for the removal of Professor Kathleen Stock OBE in an expletive-laden statement. It labelled her “one of this wretched island’s most prominent transphobes”, due to her view that a biological male who identifies as a woman is still a man.
Banners have been erected around the campus, bearing messages including “We’re not paying £9,250 a year for transphobia — fire Kathleen Stock”, “Kathleen Stock makes trans students unsafe, Sussex still pays her”, and “Stock Out”.
Harassment, intimidation and bullying
Prof Stock, who has written and spoken extensively on the issue of radical gender ideology, also faced attacks on social media, prompting her to ask: “What kind of future does a University have where intimidation determines what is said or taught?”
Her colleague, Francesco Ventrella, a lecturer in Art History, tweeted his support for the posters and said Stock was trying to use philosophy “as a discourse to legitimate ignorance”.
But the academic received support from peers including chartered psychologist and author Dr Jessica Taylor, who tweeted: “I stand with Kathleen Stock. Academic freedom (& safety) to debate, discuss, disagree, and theorise is vital for human & social development. Harassing, intimidating and bullying women who have a view on a topic is abhorrent and has no place anywhere. Freedom of speech for all.”
Trade union activist Paul Embery commented on social media: “I stand with Professor Kathleen Stock OBE – a respected academic and feminist who is currently the target of a vicious campaign demanding her sacking from @SussexUni for the ‘crime’ of expressing gender critical views. #Solidarity #StandUpToBullying.”
In response to the campaign of vitriol, a University of Sussex spokesman said: “We were extremely concerned to see the harassment towards our staff member and took immediate action in response to this, which is continuing.
“We are deeply committed to being a safe and inclusive university, which values and advances equality and diversity, seeks to resolve conflicts, advances good relations and upholds lawful free speech.
“As a university community, we must be able to have complex discussions without bullying or harassment. We will always take swift action when this occurs.
“Our role as a university is to facilitate such conversations to advance shared understanding and common agreement. We insist that these are carried out respectfully and are always protective of our staff and students.”
The university’s Vice Chancellor Adam Tickell added: “We are investigating activity on our campus which appears to have been designed to attack Professor Kathleen Stock for exercising her academic freedoms.
“Disturbingly, this has included pressuring the University to terminate her employment. Everyone at the University has the right to be free from harassment and intimidation.
“We cannot and will not tolerate threats to cherished academic freedoms and will take any action necessary to protect the rights of our community.”