Early warning from the LSE LGBTQ+ Steering Committee

Published On: September 22nd, 2022

The School Management Committee (SMC) at the LSE convenes an LGBTQ+ Steering Group, whose aim is to advise the SMC on matters related to the LGBTQ+ community. Members of this group began to suspect in the Summer of 2022 that the SMC was secretly holding meetings with powerful members of the School about disaffiliating from the Stonewall charity and its Workplace Equality Index (WEI).

This group’s suspicion, which turned out to be correct, was that the Senior Management Group might try to disaffiliate without formally consulting with the LGBTQ+ Steering Group, the unions, the student union, or the LSE Academic Board. This led the group to issue the following open letter to the SMC, which was later referred to be the SMC as this group’s contribution to the “consultation”.

This LSE email was forwarded to us by an original recipient. Highlights are added.

22/09/2022

Dear LGBTQ+ Steering Group,

We wanted to update you on some conversations that have been taking place over the summer. A group of us have had multiple meetings with representatives of the School on its relationship with Stonewall.

While we have worked hard to emphasise the importance of the School’s continued participation in the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index, we remain concerned that the School appears likely to no longer submit to the WEI. Such a move would be a profound disappointment for many reasons, not least of which being that the School would be effectively withdrawing from an important and symbolic mechanism of accountability of LGBTQ+ rights and safety.

There does not seem to be an ‘official’ position of the School on Stonewall, or the WEI, but in every conversation we have had with the School, the implication has been that it plans to quietly stop participating in the WEI.

School representatives have raised issues of (1) value for money, (2) issues with the feedback from Stonewall on the LSE’s performance, (3) the risk of reputational damage due to public criticism of Stonewall, and (4) substantial vocal criticism of Stonewall from members of faculty and staff within LSE.

We are obviously concerned about the School’s implicit withdrawal from future work with Stonewall, and we are particularly concerned about what we understand to be gender critical and anti-trans viewpoints from colleagues.

We would like to have a larger conversation with the full Steering Group about these developments.

We also have a few suggestions for next steps. Should the School withdraw from the WEI, we would like to see it agree to the following things in order for it to demonstrate its continued commitment to the LGBTQ+ faculty, staff, and students at LSE:

  1. The implementation of a meaningful biennial, independently-run and assessed mechanism of accountability (ie survey, policy assessment, community focus groups, etc.) to assess the School’s support for its LGBTQ+ community members.
  2. The implementation of regular, School-wide training on LGBTQ+ issues, particularly on the experiences and needs of trans and nonbinary faculty, staff, and students.
  3. A substantial financial investment in the School’s EDI team, including additional posts, and a requirement for departments/divisions to appoint at least one named and accountable EDI representative. The School may need to commit funding to accommodate this; ie, the School should not simply rely on existing staff taking additional duties without remuneration or recognition.
  4. A clear statement of support for the School’s LGBTQ+ community, one that emphasises the LSE’s commitment to its current and future trans and nonbinary faculty, staff, and students.
  5. A commitment to undertake the recommendations of the 2022 Stonewall WEI working group.
  6. Additional funding to support the social and educational activities of the LGBTQ+ staff network.

We welcome the suggestions from other members of the Steering Group.

Recent conversations with the School have distressed us enough to write to you, and we hope that the Steering Group can work together to help ameliorate some of the harms that this decision may precipitate.

— LGBTQ+ Steering Group WEI Working Group Members