Students ‘deeply disappointed’ by LSE cutting ties with LGBTQ+ charity Stonewall

The university has not given the reasons behind this decision yet

London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) has disaffiliated from LGBTQ+ charity Stonewall, a spokesperson confirmed with The London Tab.

The university has not released an official statement as of this article, so it’s unclear what the decision means. But if it’s similar to UCL’s disaffiliation from Stonewall in 2021, it would that mean LSE would withdraw from Stonewall’s Diversity Champions Programme, which provided an external framework to assess and guide practices towards queer inclusion within the university.

The news was first made public by a joint statement by the LSE Students’ Union (LSESU) and LSE Spectrum on 17th January. The students said they’re “deeply disappointed” that the decision was made “without a wider consultation of the LSE community” and came as “attacks on transgender people are increasing within social and political spheres.”

An LSE spokesperson told The London Tab disaffiliation from Stonewall “does not detract from LSE’s unwavering commitment to LGBTQ+ staff and students” and was decided after “discussion across the School community” and “careful consideration of the range of perspectives shared.”

The LSESU and Spectrum said the “external scrutiny” provided by Stonewall is important for the uni to “remain true to their stated commitments on LGBTQ+ rights and affords members of our community, so often discriminated against, some measure of protection.”

They alledged that withdrawing from the charity and its programme “has the potential to create an environment where gender prejudice and transphobic language is justified under the guise of academic freedom – a growing and dangerous trend for academia in the UK.”

“While academic freedom and freedom of speech are fundamental to a functioning democracy, society and university, we must be careful not to conflate freedom of speech with the right to use discriminative language. It’s unacceptable to use the cover of academic rigour to exclude or belittle LGBTQ+ people, or to promote transphobia.”

The students also said they are “concerned” about how this decision was made by the university management “without a wider consultation of the LSE community of students, staff, alumni and the unions – and particularly LGBTQ+ student and staff networks.”

“There has been no opportunity for the vast majority of us who value our relationship to Stonewall to respond to some of the incorrect assumptions which appear to have contributed to the School’s decision.”

The students call on the university to release a statement explaining its reasons, consult more students and staff about Stonewall, and “ultimately reverse the decision to disaffiliate.” They also want to see a detailed and time-constrained “LGBTQ+ action plan” developed at the university with input from queer communities.

In response, an LSE Spokesperson told The London Tab: “Following discussion across the School community and careful consideration of the range of perspectives shared, LSE has taken the decision to not renew our institutional membership with Stonewall.

“This decision does not detract from LSE’s unwavering commitment to LGBTQ+ staff and students, and we will continue to build on our existing work to create an inclusive environment where every individual can thrive.

“LSE is putting a range of commitments in place, which reflect many of the LSESU’s requests. These include, among other things, ongoing training for staff and students, a review of LBGTQ+ counselling needs, providing financial support for events and programmes and ensuring preferred names are updated systematically.”

Feature image from Google Streetview.

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• Some UCL staff who voted to not rejoin Stonewall may have done so on ‘transphobic grounds’

• ‘Vindictive and insensitive’: Students and staff slam UCL decision to cut ties with Stonewall

UCL formally cuts ties with LGBTQ+ charity Stonewall after ‘temporary’ withdrawal during Covid