LSE pauses to review Stonewall after faculty complaints, does not tell LGBTQ+ leadership

Published On: June 16th, 2022

The LSE School Management Committee (SMC) paused the School’s participation in the Stonewall charity’s Workplace Equality Index at the end of a meeting on 14 June 2023, after gender critical faculty members “raised concerns” that led them to question it.

We have obtained emails showing that the LGBTQ+ leadership at the School was actively mislead about this decision by senior managers, and were instead told that the pause was merely a temporary practical necessity.

In a later meeting, at which the SMC finally decided to disaffiliate from Stonewall, there was just one agreed reason for the decision to leave: because they found the Stonewall LGBTQ+ rights charity to have a political/activist agenda.

The minutes and emails reprinted and linked below were obtained from the LSE via a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.

Pausing Stonewall to “review the School’s association”

The pause came in spite of a warning the day before from co-directors of the Communications Division, who advised that the School should err on the side of supporting the LGBTQ+ community, and that Stonewall-style benchmarking may be “intrinsically necessary for accountability”.

According to minutes obtained by a FOIA request, the SMC’s aim in pausing their participation was “to reflect on feedback received”. In the meeting of 14 June 2023, they also agreed:

  1. That a group of SMC members would meet with faculty who have raised concerns regarding Stonewall, and members of the LGBTQ+ Steering Group and Spectrum Committee, to listen to their concerns and summarise this feedback to share with SMC. Action: Ben Plummer-Powell, Andrew Young, Charles Stafford,
    and Susana Mourato
  2. That any review of the School’s association with Stonewall would take place within established processes for such an association. Action: Andrew Young and Ben Plummer-Powell

Two days later, a senior manager wrote to the LGBTQ+ Steering Group to notify them about the pause in participation in Stonewall, but misleadingly suggests that the agreed reason for this is merely a temporary practical limitation:

This means that, as in previous years, we will focus on this work in the year ahead, rather than re-entering for the next submission. This is because we are still awaiting further feedback from Stonewall, which we need to inform this work. If we were to make a submission for the next Employer Index due out in 2023, we would need to start on the submission now in readiness for September. Given this timeframe, it is impractical to review recommendations, create an action plan and create a new submission in a meaningful way during this time. This is why we have taken the decision in the past not to apply for the subsequent year to allow a full year for feedback, review and implementation ahead of a future submission.

The email goes on to invite the LGBTQ+ Steering Group to express what they find valuable and important about Stonewall, though no consultation about reviewing the LSE’s Stonewall affiliation was ever requested, and the group’s feedback shows they were not told about the review until the decision had already been made.

The email concludes stating that the SMC will discuss “wider colleagues across the School for their feedback”, and not just the LGBTQ+ Steering Group.

A few months later, after a series of informal consultations with individuals in the School, the School Management Committee decided to disaffiliate with Stonewall because of their LGBTQ+ rights “political/activist agenda”.