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University lecturers are told to censor their courses in case they are transphobic in bid to appease equality campaigners

(Mail Online)    14:51, February 05, 2018

At least a dozen institutions have issued guidance to professors and lecturers

Classes must not contain material that is discriminatory to transgender people

It is part of a drive to appease equality campaigners and tackle 'transphobia'

Universities are ordering academics to delete all material from their courses which could be considered ‘transphobic’ in a drive to appease equality campaigners.

At least a dozen institutions have issued guidance to professors and lecturers stating that classes must not contain material that is discriminatory to transgender people – those who identify as another sex to the one they were born.

Data published today lays bare the extent to which academics’ speech is being restricted on ‘transgender issues’ in a potential breach of the law on academic freedom.

Almost half of universities now have policies in place that regulate speech on the topic. Last year the proportion was a third.

One institution – City, University of London – has even banned lecturers from using terms such as ‘mate’, ‘guys’, ‘Sir’ or ‘Madam’ because it might upset transgender students.

Many universities ban all forms of transphobia, while others attempt to limit discussion or insist students use gender-neutral pronouns such as ‘they’ or ‘ze’.

The universities say the policies aim to make courses more inclusive of transgender students.

The findings were uncovered by online magazine Spiked as part of its annual Free Speech University Rankings (FSUR).

The report authors said the ‘vast majority’ of transgender-related speech regulation was imposed by the universities, rather than by students’ unions.

The instructions for avoiding transphobia in course content have been given to lecturers at a number of elite Russell Group universities, including Leeds, Southampton, King’s College London and Cardiff.

Others include St Andrews, Sussex, Bath, Glasgow Caledonian, Liverpool Hope, Oxford Brookes, Aberystwyth and the University of the West of England in Bristol.

Under the Equality Act, all institutions have a duty to ensure transgender students are not discriminated against.

FUSR coordinator Tom Slater said: ‘In some of our most esteemed universities, supposed citadels of free-thinking and scientific endeavour, administrations are demanding that debate about transgenderism be shut down and courses be cleansed of un-PC material.

How any course about, say, biology, can coexist with this is unfathomable.’

Anthony Glees, professor of politics at the University of Buckingham, said imposing such rules on lecturers on what they can say about transgenderism risked breaching the 1988 Education Reform Act, which guarantees academic freedom.

‘This is outrageous,’ he said.

It comes after feminists including Germaine Greer and Linda Bellos and scientists such as fertility pioneer Lord Winston were banned by union officials from speaking at student events because of concerns they have raised about transgender issues.

Campaign group Stonewall said: ‘Trans people face huge levels of abuse every day. Given this, we welcome institutions that put policies in place to create inclusive environments and take a stand against transphobia.’

Almost one ban per week is being imposed on ‘offensive’ material, events or speakers at universities, according to FSUR.

It found that 81 bans have been created in the past three academic years – equal to almost one for every week in term time. 

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