Free speech bill must be amended to provide academics with adequate protection, ministers say
The bill defines “academic freedom” for academic staff as “their freedom within the law and within their area of expertise – (a) to question and test received wisdom, and (b) to come up with new ideas and controversial or unpopular opinions, without running the risk of being harmed in any of the ways described in paragraph ”.
Under the proposed changes to the law, universities will be given a new legal obligation to actively promote freedom of expression on campus, and this will become a new condition for registration with the educational oversight body. higher, the Student Office.
This would mean that any institution that does not respect freedom of expression could be investigated and fined or sanctioned by the regulator. Other proposed changes will ensure that student unions, as well as universities, are under an obligation to promote freedom of expression.
But Professor Tooley said the bill would be “unable to stop” the harassment Professor Stock was facing from students. “We didn’t tell her she couldn’t publish articles, she was still a teacher. But there was a concerted, orchestrated and vile campaign by students and staff that ended up scaring her to leave her home and do her job and she had to leave ”.
His “core amendment” to the bill would ensure academics can sue an institution or use the complaints system if it does not protect them against targeted campaigns of harassment by staff or students or if it does not take positive measures, including disciplinary measures, to mitigate the effects of such campaigns.
Conservative peers ready to move the amendment
Professor Tooley has said that two Conservative peers are ready to present his amendment when the bill is debated in the House of Lords.
Earlier this week, Professor Stock revealed that the students’ backlash against her was truly “the end point of three and a half years of bullying, harassment and low reputation from colleagues.”
In her first interview since her resignation, she told BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour that her perspective on gender identity politics had become “radically distorted” by her fellow academics.
“They tell their students at lectures that I hurt trans students or they go on Twitter and they say I’m a fanatic,” she said.
Professor Stock recently published a book challenging the idea that gender identity is more “socially meaningful” than biological sex.
She has already questioned the idea that men who identify as women should automatically have access to female-only facilities, such as locker rooms, or be allowed to be on shortlists or sports teams reserved for women. women.
Earlier this month, a group calling themselves “Anti-Terf Sussex” described Professor Stock online as “one of the most prominent transphobes on this miserable island, espousing a bastard variant of radical feminism.”
Terf, which means radical trans-exclusionary feminist, is generally used as a derogatory term to describe those who believe that “identifying” as a woman is not the same as being born a woman. It can also be used to refer to people considered to have “transphobic” views.