Lecturers are increasingly facing “transphobia” probes for sharing or even liking posts that counter or critique transgender ideology on social media. These investigations are happening despite many universities having policies that supposedly protect free speech.
Political correctness in colleges, particularly surrounding transgender individuals, is having a chilling effect on free speech. The majority are said to be self-censoring to keep their jobs and secure promotions.
Three weeks ago, two academics in the UK created an anonymous testimonials website to document the prevalence of censorship surrounding the trans debates in British universities. The site has received many submissions, with most reporting how they are self-censoring to avoid backlash.
According to Selina Todd, a history lecturer at Oxford, the testimonials are “disturbing” and there is a “real crisis” of free speech in universities. Last year, Todd had to be escorted by security guards to lectures after she received threats by trans activists.
“One of the things that has really struck me on a personal level is how many students and staff both at my own institution and across the UK have told me that they’re frightened to speak out,” Todd told The Telegraph.
“Not even necessarily in a public meeting but just in their seminars, lectures or tutorials about what seems like the most innocuous kind of stuff…the legal definition of women and men.”
In one of the submissions, a lecturer explained how they faced a “deeply upsetting and traumatic” 10-month probe “for merely suggesting that women had the right to debate issues that concern them.”
One of the founders of the site, called GC Academia Network, who wished to remain anonymous, said the submissions are proof of a “chilling factor” in universities. They added that even students feel they “can’t have non-politically correct opinions.”
All these “transphobia” probes are happening despite most universities having policies that protect free speech. Activists are finding liked posts of educators and reporting them to universities.
“UK universities are committed to promoting and protecting free speech and academic freedom, which we see as critical to the success of this country’s higher education system,” said a spokesperson for UK Universities.
“There are already significant legal duties placed on universities to uphold freedom of speech and universities are required to have a code of practice on free speech and to update this regularly.
“Every student and staff member has the right to a safe environment and any incident of harassment or bullying is unacceptable. Universities must do all they can to promote an inclusive university-wide culture in which students and staff feel able to express their views freely, within the law.”
“Transphobia” probes are not unique to the UK. They are happening all over the western democracies, even in the US.