Here’s everything you need to know about Cardiff University’s relationship with Stonewall
The LGBTQ+ charity has had long affiliations with the university
Cardiff University’s links with Stonewall, an LGTBQ+ charity have come under fire since senior academics urged the institution to cut ties over concerns of ‘academic freedom’.
It comes after the Pride month of June ended, highlighting how a month is not enough to celebrate and protect the LGTBQ+ community from homophobic attacks and comments, especially within the university which now has concerned students and staff.
Colleagues and I have written to the Vice-Chancellor of Cardiff University, suggesting that the university withdraws from Stonewall.
We’re concerned about academic freedom and respect for all staff and students.
— Thomas Prosser 🏴🇵🇱 (@prossertj) June 17, 2021
This debate was provoked after the CEO of the charity, Nancy Kelley, said that freedom of speech did not extend to expressing “gender critical beliefs”. In an interview, she told the BBC: “with all beliefs, including controversial beliefs, there is a right to express those beliefs publicly and where they’re harmful or damaging — whether it’s antisemitic beliefs, gender-critical beliefs, beliefs about disability — we have legal systems that are put in place for people who are harmed by that.”
Following this statement, at least 15 senior academics have signed an open letter to the Vice-Chancellor to withdraw links to Stonewall on the grounds that it jeopardises “academic freedom and respect for all staff and students.”
Their letter argues that academics have a right to hold opinions on gender without being excluded, and accuses Stonewall of holding views that limit those beliefs.
However, the open letter has sparked a discussion within Cardiff University and has left some students and staff discontented with the situation resulting in them writing a letter as opposition.
The letter composed by students and staff stated: [it is] “important to let trans, non-binary and intersex people in the Cardiff Uni community that they’re not alone.”
The letter further expressed how trans people are more likely to suffer from poverty, homelessness, unemployment as well as abuse and harassment at work.
Students and staff have argued that the accusations “thrown” at gay and bisexual members of the LGBTQ+ community, such as posing a threat to children or ‘normal’ men and women using changing rooms or toilets, suggest the academic staff are taking a stance that gender is a debatable topic; hence, marginalising those who are not cisgender.
Statement: Stonewall – 22/06/21
— Cardiff University (@cardiffuni) June 22, 2021
In response to both letters, Cardiff University released a statement on 22 June. A spokesperson for the university said: “Cardiff University’s strength comes from its diverse community. Our commitment to our LGBTQ+ community is longstanding and non-negotiable.”
“We remain absolutely committed to providing a safe, happy and academically stimulating experience for all. As a research-intensive university, we encourage respectful academic debate, and we recognise the right of individuals, within the law, to hold views that may not be shared by others. We are aware that content has been shared at an event and on social media that has made members of our community feel unsafe – let us be clear that this is entirely unacceptable.”
They further said: “Over the summer, we will seek to engage in dialogue with our Enfys LGBTQ+ network, the signatories of the initial letter and with Stonewall, to recognise and understand the concerns of all concerned and, if possible, help to foster greater understanding between the different groups.”
“While we know that we are unlikely to reach a position where all agree, we would welcome the opportunity to facilitate meaningful discussion and the opportunity to challenge perspectives respectfully.”
The university has also acknowledged that “many may have found these events distressing, and some may feel vulnerable.”
“All staff and students affected can be assured of our support: students can contact [email protected] and staff can contact the Enfys network ([email protected]) or the Employee Assistance Programme, Care First. ”
Although we've made remarkable progress, there's still work to be done. We're determined to advance LGBTQ+ equality in Wales. pic.twitter.com/vXq9fGJp5a
— Mark Drakeford (@fmwales) July 1, 2021
The university also asked everybody concerned to do their utmost to support all members of the LGBT+ community.