Here’s what Cardiff students think of senior lecturers demanding to cut ties with Stonewall
Cutting ties with Stonewall would leave LGBTQ+ students under-represented and unprotected
15 senior lecturers have signed an open letter that outlines the request for Cardiff University to cut ties with the Stonewall charity. They have said that it impinges on their academic freedoms.
But in their call to cut ties with the charity, they overlook and disregard the impact that Stonewall has achieved, including making opportunities accessible for members of the LGBTQ+ community and gender-diverse people.
The Cardiff Tab spoke to students about their thoughts on the open letter. Here’s what they had to say:
“My rights and dignity are a matter of opinion”
The debate for the university to cease ties with Stonewall would leave diversity within the uni unmoderated, impacting support for LGBTQ+ staff and students in the future.
A student told the Tab Cardiff: “As a transgender person I’m disgusted that these people, and then the official response from the uni, are acting like my rights and dignity are a matter of opinion.”
Cardiff Uni has literally 1000s of partnerships and relationships across the globe. It would take a lot to persuade me that Stonewall is one of the most problematic.
— Rhys Pearce-Palmer (@rhyspearceone) June 22, 2021
“The uni should really be thinking about the increase of transphobia on University campuses”
A counter letter has been drawn up and signed by an array of university staff and students in favour of keeping the links with the Stonewall charity. But the fact that this letter and the debate around it exists is a pointer that charities like Stonewall need to prevail.
While some may not agree with their stance on freedom of expression, it is hard to overlook the way this charity has allowed LGBTQ+ to come on leaps and bounds in the academic sector.
One student told the Cardiff Tab that there was a “massive disparity between the uni’s response to LGBT+ students and anti-abortion non-students.” Many students have voiced their frustration, highlighting that “protests against the open letter were harassed by university security.”
As someone who is openly LGBTQ and works for Cardiff Uni, it feels particularly daunting going into work tomorrow knowing that some of my colleagues are campaigning to remove the Unis support for Stonewall.
— 𝕯𝖊𝖆𝖉 𝕸𝖊𝖙𝖍𝖔𝖉 (@DeadMethod) June 20, 2021
“It just sends a message to us students that they don’t really care about all of us”
The open letter centres mainly around supposed ‘gender critical’ beliefs, but it perpetuates transphobic notions as it favours academic freedom over the rights of transgender students in Cardiff. The open letter undermines the issues faced by LGBTQ+ students at Cardiff.
“The men who signed that letter pose a far greater threat to my rights than a trans woman using the toilet in the cubicle next to me”
Gay and trans people face scrutiny on their presence in the world all of the time. The university staff who wrote this open letter send a message that this is secondary to so-called academic freedoms.
So proud of Cardiff University (past &present) just look at how this list has grown. Showing that the #trans community are loved, respected and WILL be supported during the desperately unpleasant & dangerous attempts to attack& undermine equality #LGBTQIAhttps://t.co/bvSnPyZCak
— Lu Thomas (@LuThomas80) June 20, 2021
“They should check themselves before considering themselves professionals”
This open letter allows for a stream of transphobia to not only be professed but to be acceptable, and to come out without backlash. It goes further than defending free speech; it puts LGBTQ+ people in a new and frightening position. They would be unrepresented and unprotected when instances of homophobia and transphobia arise.
In today’s age, it is bad enough that these instances of discrimination still occur, it’s worse still that there are people actively trying to retract the systems of protection for the LGBTQ+ in the academic sector. Many students went on to call the lecturers involved “TERFs”.
Cardiff uni needs to meet with Stonewall, Enfys, their LGBT society and further students to talk about these matters. It's clear they have no clue about the issues trans folks have been facing and are just hoping it'll go away. It won't, students and staff are going to get hurt
— Keira (@takumasgirl) June 30, 2021
The university’s official statement regarding the open-letter states: “Our commitment to our LGBTQ community is longstanding and non-negotiable. All staff and students affected can be assured of our support.”
But many students have maintained the unfairness of the university’s response, claiming that their rights and their experiences were not met with the dignity they had wished for.