Our support for policies and practices which are inclusive and supportive

There’s a counter-letter to yesterday’s letter to the Times. Of course there is.

The title is “University support for LGBTQIA+ people”…as if the letter to the Times were about refusing to support people.

The letter is bad. It’s bad the way these things are always bad – it’s all buzzwords and rote phrases that are abstract and not defined. Academics shouldn’t be writing bad letters of that kind.

As academics and other colleagues working in higher education, we are writing to register our support for policies and practices which are inclusive and supportive of our trans colleagues and students.

What does that mean? Inclusive in what sense? Supportive how?

There is reasonable inclusion, which means not excluding people from events, institutions, lectures, classes, and the like that are meant for everyone. Then there’s unreasonable inclusion, which means not excluding people from events and institutions and the like that are intended for a specific category of people, not in order to “exclude” or “discriminate against” people not in that category, but for an array of other reasons, which can include an opportunity to talk freely without having to struggle to be heard. The powerless sometimes need to gather away from the powerful in order to organize and discuss. Women are a powerless group, and they sometimes need to organize with other women, and they may not want to “include” trans women in that category, and no one should force them to.

Workers don’t have to be “inclusive” of bosses when organizing. The Sioux don’t have to be “inclusive” of oil company executives when they’re organizing against a pipeline on tribal land. Atheists don’t have to be “inclusive” of Catholic bishops when organizing against the bishops’ efforts to force women to continue pregnancies they don’t want to continue. Universal blanket no-exceptions “inclusion” is not an ideal, and the damn fools who wrote this stupid letter should understand that.

Criticism and critique of policies and programmes that promote inclusiveness, such as Stonewall Diversity Champions, is not in and of itself unwelcome.

See above. See it as many times as it takes to get the point.

Such things are products of dialogue and discussion, and they evolve over the course of this dialogue. However, the primary concern must be with the wellbeing of the people subject to those policies. The vulnerability of the LGBTQIA+ community, especially young people and those who are transgender or gender-diverse, is well documented.

Is it? Is it well documented in any sense other than the sense that letters like this keep repeating it? And even if it is, does it follow that other “communities” are not vulnerable? No it does not. The “LGBTQIA+ community” does not have a monopoly on vulnerability.

As educators, we have a duty of care to our students and colleagues. Respect for their gender identity and/or sexuality is an integral aspect of that duty of care.

Why? How? In what sense? Meaning what? Why that rather than anything else? Is respect for their taste in music an integral aspect of that duty of care? Why should we buy into this notion of the special sacred status of a fictional gender identity? Why do we have to pay any attention to it at all?

It is inconceivable that this duty should be considered antithetical to “academic freedom”. Rather, ignoring or denying it precludes our fellow academics and colleagues — be they undergraduate students, postgraduate candidates, early career researchers, lecturers, professional-services staff or innumerable others — from experiencing a secure and supportive environment safely to pursue their own freedom.

Blah blah blah wuff wuff wuff – it’s all just tedious boilerplate, that doesn’t mean anything but sounds like what the commissars want them to say.

I say it’s spinach and I say the hell with it.

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