Taking the pledge

It wears the badge or it gets the hose.

A campaign encouraging Scottish NHS staff to sign a pledge and wear a badge supporting gay, lesbian and transgender people has been criticised after it emerged participation in the scheme will be monitored.

Have Scottish NHS staff ever been encouraged to wear a badge supporting women?

The NHS Pride pledge, devised by Scotland’s health service and the SNP government, with input from the charity Stonewall, launches tomorrow as part of Pride month.

There’s your problem right there. Reject “input” from Stonewall.

The campaign has rankled some doctors and nurses, however, amid leaked guidance from civil servants that health boards should record uptake among staff. A Scottish government briefing passed to this newspaper states that badges should only be awarded to staff who take the pledge and it advises that the numbers of badge-wearers “and basic info on staff groups wearing the badge” should be noted.

Has the NHS ever made such a demand for support of women?

Among the leaked documents is a draft statement for an NHS newsletter by Caroline Lamb, chief executive of NHS Scotland, who says: “I will proudly wear my badge as an ally to progress. I encourage you to do the same.”

How about progress for women? Any thoughts on that? Is it all just “queer” and trans people now?

For Women Scotland (FWS), the feminist campaign group, was contacted by dozens of NHS staff when details of the scheme emerged last week. Some described the pledge as “offensive” while others complained that the campaign “belittles” hard-working NHS staff who strive to deliver patient-centred care irrespective of sexuality and gender. Several NHS trusts in England have adopted the Pride pledge in recent years.

Signing it comes with duties – it’s kind of like enlisting in the army.

Staff who sign it are advised they may sometimes need to call out hate speech, or report incidents of discrimination or acts of verbal or physical abuse “against patients, people who use our services, and staff (including contractor staff)”.

“Abuse” like, for instance, saying “I requested a woman doctor and you’re not a woman”? Like asking to be on a women-only ward? Like telling a patient she can be on a women-only ward?

One GP in Lanarkshire who contacted FWS wrote: “The idea of a group of smug Pride badge-wearers informing on their friends and colleagues sounds more like East Germany in the Stasi days or China during the Cultural Revolution than a liberal Scottish democracy in the 21st century.” The backlash comes amid criticism of Stonewall and its diversity champions scheme, to which hundreds of organisations, including the Scottish government, belong.

Susan Smith of FWS said the campaign threatened to discriminate against women and those with gender-critical beliefs, while Malcolm Clark from the LGB Alliance, which was founded in 2019 in opposition to Stonewall’s policies on transgender issues, warned it could be counter-productive. “Frankly, it’s sinister,” said Clark. “This sort of virtue-signalling is almost Maoist in the way it gives a platform for some people to proclaim their political loyalty but puts other staff on notice they are not good comrades.”

Trans women of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your jock straps.

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