An institutionally sensitive issue

Breathtaking. (You know how sometimes when you read something really appalling you find yourself not breathing as you read on? I don’t think I’m the only one.)

A university has “confiscated” the findings of an academic studying Britain’s gender wars in a row over her “dangerous” research data, The Telegraph can reveal. 

Dr Laura Favaro began the first ever taxpayer-funded study into whether social scientists at universities feel censored over their views on transgender issues in March 2020 at City, University of London.

But it has descended into chaos, with the study’s author allegedly hounded out of the university, stripped of the findings she collected and barred from publishing them amid claims of transphobia.

How can they do that???

Dr Favaro is now bringing an employment tribunal claim against City for harassment, victimisation and whistleblowing detriment, and claims she was discriminated against for her protected philosophical belief in the reality of biological sex

The Telegraph says she was invited to move from Spain to City’s Department of Sociology but it doesn’t say who invited her – whether it was City or some other institution or what. The study got £18,000 from the Equality and Human Rights Commission and £10,000 from the British Academy. The Telegraph says Favaro has done a summary report but it hasn’t been published yet; the Telegraph doesn’t say why or at whose behest.

Her study involved 50 individual interviews with academics in gender studies who identified as feminists, a representative survey of social scientists with 650 responses and hundreds of documents and tweets.

Scholars told her that they had threats of violence in the gender debate, hostility from colleagues, and others said they felt their careers “can’t survive that sort of backlash”, and that they have to have “secret conversations” to avoid reprisal and because “we are all so afraid”.

Her final work has not been published, as it was derailed by complaints about an article for Times Higher Education in which she warned that “a culture of discrimination, silencing and fear has taken hold”.

Again, skimping on the information here. Derailed by whom? What’s the point of telling us she was invited but not who invited her, and her work was derailed but not who derailed it?

Following this, she says, her line managers told her that the study had “become an institutionally sensitive issue” and that “City considers my data to be dangerous” and is “frightened of making it public”. 

A research participant who “did not like the findings” and academics sympathetic to trans issues were among those who complained. One, Dr Sahra Taylor, a City lecturer, claimed it was an “attack piece on trans people [and] our existences” that has “clearly caused harm to many interviewed”. 

We’ve seen claims of that kind a billion times by now. We don’t find them credible.

City found following an investigation that there was “no evidence” that the research breached any ethics criteria.

But City allegedly locked the email account Dr Favaro used to communicate with survey respondents, and demanded that she hand over all of her interview and survey data and delete any copies of it, before making her redundant on March 31, despite her claiming she has a permanent contract.

How can they do any of that? It sounds completely grotesque.

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