LGBT+ students at the University of Sussex have welcomed news that professor Kathleen Stock is to leave the institution.
Students have been organising under the slogan “Stock Out” since 6 October, when they launched a campaign calling on the university to terminate Stock’s employment over her trans-exclusionary views and position as trustee of anti-trans charity LGB Alliance.
On Wednesday (28 October), vice chancellor Adam Tickell told staff and students that Stock “has decided to leave the university”.
“The University of Sussex has vigorously and unequivocally defended [Stock’s] right to exercise her academic freedom and lawful freedom of speech, free from bullying and harassment of any kind,” Tickell’s statement said.
“We had hoped that Professor Stock would feel able to return to work, and we would have supported her to do so,” it continues. “She has decided that recent events have meant that this will not be possible, and we respect and understand that decision.
“We will miss her many contributions, from which the university has benefited during her time here.”
LGBT+ students at the University of Sussex had branded Stock a “transphobe” and accused her of “espousing a bastardised version of ‘radical feminism’ that excludes and endangers trans people”.
Stock denies that she is transphobic, and has previously said that she “asserts the rights of trans people to live their lives free from fear, violence, harassment or any discrimination”. However, she has called “many trans women still males with male genitalia“, and argued against their inclusion in single-sex spaces, something protected by the Equality Act 2010.
She has also argued that self-ID “threatens a secure understanding of the concept ‘lesbian'”, rooting her rhetoric in a belief of immutable biological sex.
“Massive win for Sussex LGBTQ+ students today,” said an account on Instagram claiming to represent trans and non-binary students at Sussex. “Let’s take a minute to appreciate this.”
The group added: “Queer and trans students united, never to be defeated!!”
Our VC has written to all staff & students today, to share that Professor Kathleen Stock has decided to leave the University. This is with regret & we thank her for her vital contributions to the University & the field of philosophy. You can read more here:https://t.co/DFxYbAGkie
— University of Sussex (@SussexUni) October 28, 2021
In a Twitter thread, Stock said she is “sad to announce” that she is leaving the University of Sussex.
“This has been a very difficult few years, but the leadership’s approach more recently has been admirable and decent. I hope that other institutions in similar situations can learn from this,” she posted.
“This has been an absolutely horrible time for me and my family. I’m putting it behind me now. On to brighter things soon, I hope.”
2) Am particularly glad to see University emphasising that bullying and harassment anyone for their legally held beliefs is unacceptable in their workplace. If you are Sussex staff or student experiencing this, you don’t have to put up with it.
— Kathleen Stock (@Docstockk) October 28, 2021
Kathleen Stock and the peaceful protest of LGBT+ students
The “Stock Out” campaign began when students anonymously put up two posters on the University of Sussex campus calling for Kathleen Stock to be sacked over her trans-exclusionary views – to uproar from university management and Stock herself.
The campaign continued with peaceful protests outside the university. At one such demonstration, protesters held placards that said “we were meant to be safe here” and “TERFs out of Sussex” while a university open day got underway. Students covered their faces to protect their identities after the university promised to “investigate” those calling for Stock to be fired.
The posters were removed and the university’s vice chancellor Adam Tickell subsequently issued a statement in support of Stock. He promised that the university would actively investigate “activity on our campus which appears to have been designed to attack professor Kathleen Stock for exercising her academic freedoms”.
Labour’s shadow minister for women and equalities, Taiwo Owatemi, previously commented on the situation by condemning the LGB Alliance and backing the LGBT+ students peaceful protests against Stock. She wrote that she was not aware of Stock’s writings, but was heavily critical of the LGB Alliance, of which she is a trustee.
“LGB Alliance – whose application for charitable status was opposed by over 50 LGBT+ groups, as well as politicians from all parties – should be rejected by all those who believe in equality,” Owatemi wrote in a 13 October letter that was shared on Twitter.
“Every single one of these stances is diametrically opposed to my beliefs and the positions of my party,” Owatemi concluded. “I note that an appeal against their [LGB Alliance] charitable status is due to take place next year, and I will be monitoring the case with a keen interest.”