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.
Criticism and critique of policies and programmes that promote inclusiveness, such as Stonewall Diversity Champions, are not in and of themselves unwelcome. 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.
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.
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