Exeter University lecturers ‘pressured’ into signing ‘anti-transphobia pledges’ – including seeking LGBTQ+ inputs to their teachings and declaring their pronouns – to demonstrate ‘allyship’ with trans students


Lecturers at a top university say they’ve been ‘pressured’ into signing anti-transphobia pledges and declaring their pronouns. 

Exeter University asked its staff last week to sign an ‘inclusive practitioners commitment’ to demonstrate ‘allyship’ with transgender students, the Sunday Telegraph reported.

The online document requests staff make six pledges to prove they are ‘the kind of person that LGBTQ+ people can confide in and feel safe around’.

These include promising to ‘affirm trans staff and students’ as well as outside experts, by using chosen names and pronouns.

Staff are also told to seek LGBTQ+ people’s contributions to their teaching subject.

Pictured: Dr Edward Skidelsky, a philosophy lecturer at the University of Exeter

Pictured: Dr Edward Skidelsky, a philosophy lecturer at the University of Exeter

Pictured: A view of the University of Exeter

Pictured: A view of the University of Exeter

They are encouraged to ‘educate’ themselves about how ‘micro-aggressions, dog whistles and talking points’ can be harmful to LGBTQ+ people.

Staff are told to display ‘allyship’ to the community by sharing their pronouns where appropriate.

And they are also asked to be ‘firmly against’ transphobia and ‘acephobia’ – defined as discrimination against asexual people.

Exeter – part of the Russell Group – said the document was drawn up by the campus LGBTQ+ ‘colleague and student group’ and is not affiliated with any other scheme.

However, Exeter is a member of the controversial Stonewall Workplace Equality Index, which ranks employers on LGBTQ+ friendliness.

The Stonewall scheme has been criticised for pushing highly-contested gender ideology in public organisations and companies.

Yesterday, academics said the Exeter pledges would make gender-critical staff vulnerable to being targeted by activists.

Dr Edward Skidelsky, a philosophy lecturer, told the Sunday Telegraph: ‘Schemes like this are coercive and intended to put pressure on people who are gender-critical.

‘You will be made visible if you sign up because a badge will be displayed on your staff profile. So if you don’t sign it can be easily identified and mean you’ll possibly targeted by student activists.

They are encouraged to 'educate' themselves about how 'micro-aggressions, dog whistles and talking points' can be harmful to LGBTQ+ people. (Stock Image)

They are encouraged to ‘educate’ themselves about how ‘micro-aggressions, dog whistles and talking points’ can be harmful to LGBTQ+ people. (Stock Image)

‘Also, gender-critical people will want to be free to be able to refer to trans people by their biological sex in certain cases. If someone is a rapist then it is ridiculous that you should say ‘she’.’

The Committee for Academic Freedom said the ‘point of the exercise’ is ‘to smoke out and put pressure on dissenters – those who, by implication, LGBTQ+ people will not ‘feel safe around’.’

It said staff are likely to feel they have to sign the pledge ‘because not to would make you a bad person in the eyes of your colleagues’.

A spokesman for the University of Exeter said: ‘This initiative is entirely voluntary, driven by our independent staff network and coordinated by the University in order for colleagues to show their support for members of our community.

‘It has no links with any outside programmes, is not coercive or exclusionary, and colleagues are not asked to sign up but are free to if they so choose.

‘This is similar to other allyship initiatives supported at the university.’



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