LSE launches ‘Academic Freedom’ Group with strong anti-trans ties

Published On: September 28th, 2023

Today the LSE launched the “LSE Academic Freedom” group (LSEAF). Their homepage includes links identifying Nigel Farage and Elon Musk as “heroes”, and the entire leadership committee has strong ties to gender critical views that are critical of trans and LGBTQ+ identities. The group has proposed a policy that would allow lecturers to put students in environments that the students find “harmful”.

Putting students in an environment “regarded as harmful by them”

One of the LSEAF’s stated aims is to draft a new Code of Practice they hope the LSE School Management Committee to adopt. This includes protections for lecturers who put students in an environment that is “regarded as harmful by them”:

LSE AF Code of Practice §3.4

3.4 Academic freedom entitles individual academics to freedom within the law to discuss the subject they are teaching with students in a form that they shall determine, including the freedom to assert and discuss viewpoints that are controversial and that may offend students and other academics, or be regarded as harmful by them.

This proposal also includes a clause that would silence calls for discipline against a staff member or student. The exception is if there is a formal complaint or official disciplinary finding. Such a proposal would result in a chilling effect on those who experience harassment of any kind at the LSE.

LSE AF Code of Practice §4.4

4.4 Campaigns against others. Academic freedom requires that staff and students do not call for the dismissal or disciplining of any member of staff or for the disciplining or expulsion of a student in any public forum in either of the following circumstances: i) before a formal complaint has been made against that member of staff or student, and disciplinary procedures have commenced; or ii) subsequent to a finding by the School’s disciplinary procedures that there are no grounds for dismissal or expulsion or other disciplinary sanctions, and where the call for dismissal, expulsion or other disciplinary sanction relies on grounds considered in the earlier finding by the School.

The resources on the LSEAF homepage warns of the kind of free speech that the leadership committee aims to protect.

Links to right-wing groups

The Homepage of the LSEAF posts a list of resources at the bottom that includes Academics for Academic Freedom (AFAF), a right-wing group that maintains a “Heroes and Zeroes” page.

The “Heroes” include the far-right UKIP leader Nigel Farage together with Elon Musk. Among the “Zeroes” they include prominent trans rights and LGBTQ+ rights groups.

LSEAF Leadership Committee Gender Critical Politics

The founding leadership committee of the LSEAF have a legally protected right to voice their beliefs in public. The beliefs most choose to express on twitter are overwhelmingly “gender critical” ideology that is critical of trans and LGBTQ+ identities.

The twitter accounts and public profile of each LSEAF leadership committee member is discussed below.

Martin Anthony, twitter account @MartinHGAnthony, is the first LSEAF leadership committee member on the list, who calls himself “gender critical” in the tweets below and refers to the gender experience as “fantasy”:

Chetan Bhatt is a sociologist and a signatory of several open letters in support of gender critical ideology. For example, Professor Bhatt was a prominent signatory on an open letter with Kathleen Stock in support of trans critical research. He also signed letters in support of the gender critical lobbying group Sex-Matters. Most recently he signed an open letter in support of screening the gender critical film Adult Human Female at the University of Edinburgh.

Alison Cummerson maintains the twitter @_Hodgehegs under the name “Woman at LSE”, an account that posts material that is strongly critical of trans identities and sometimes refers to trans women as males. In May of 2023, she initiated a transphobic twitter mob attack against the LSE LGBTQ+ staff network Spectrum and women’s network POWER, following their invitation of a trans woman to speak at their event.

 

Lucinda Platt is a sociologist, whose twitter account @PlattLucinda is often devoted to material that is trans critical. This includes liking and retweeting posts in support of gender conversion therapy, one of which is below.

 

Peter Ramsay is a law professor and Brexiteer who has argued that LGBTQ+ safe spaces are threatening free speech. His @democracylaw twitter account regularly posts trans critical material and retweets posts by prominent gender critical lobbyists like Kathleen Stock.

 

Patrick Sturgis is a social psychologist whose twitter account (@patricksturg) posts are critical of trans identity, and who suggests in one that he has received complaints from students because he is not “pro trans”.