UCL have confirmed they will not re-join Stonewall’s Diversity Champions scheme or make a submission to the Workplace Equality Index. We find this decision extremely disappointing, one we know will have a serious impact on our trans community in particular.
The Workplace Equality Index is the definitive benchmarking tool for employers to measure their progress on lesbian, gay, bi and trans inclusion. A measure used by over 900+ organisations. External benchmarking and the independent framework of the Diversity Champions scheme affords members of our community, so often discriminated against, some measure of protection. We feel that removing this has the potential to create an environment where gender prejudice and transphobic language is justified under the guise of academic freedom.
We have been part of the discussions on re-joining the scheme for several months now, expressing how important the framework is to create and foster an inclusive community where every individual has the safety and freedom to be themself. In the last meeting of UCL’s Equality, Inclusion and Diversity Committee, a majority voted in favour of re-joining the scheme. It is concerning to see that UCL does not appear to value the views of their own EDI committee on this issue.
Instead, UCL has encouraged our community to learn to ‘disagree well’. This notion in any other context is valid; academic freedom and freedom of speech are fundamental to a functioning university, democracy, and society. But conflating freedom of speech with the right to use discriminative language sets a dangerous precedent. It’s unacceptable to use the cover of academic freedom to exclude trans students and promote transphobia, and we’ll continue to call this out. All trans people deserve to be treated with respect, dignity and humanity in our university – this is not an issue on which we can learn to disagree well.
We will intensify our efforts to provide support, guidance, and protection to our LGBTQ+ community, championing their rights to work and study without abuse, discrimination or harm. We live by our values as a Union for all UCL students and we are committed to supporting and lobbying UCL for policies and activities that are trans-inclusive.
UCL have committed to create a new LGBTQ+ equality implementation group in the new year. We’ll make sure student representation is at the core of this group and that trans issues are heard.
We know this news will be upsetting for many students as we head into the winter break. Support is available during the closure period, we’ve detailed it all here.
What you can do now:
- Take the Active Bystander course and learn how to make safe interventions if you witness unacceptable behaviour.
- Report any incidents of bullying or harassment using the Report + Support tool.
- Connect with our Trans Officer, Nestram.
- Use our Hate Crime Reporting Centre to report any instances of hate crime at UCL.
- Arifa Aminy, Equity Officer
- Nestram Rickman, Trans Officer
- UCL LGBTQ+ Network