• Thu. Jun 13th, 2024

“Lack of transparency”: Senior leadership team report to themselves as LGBTQ+ group still not formed

LGBTQ+ flag in blue sky

A university group which was meant to address LGBTQ+ issues on campus has still not met or been created, The Student can reveal.

The LGBT subcommittee, part of the university’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) committee, has failed to find a suitable convener since it was first proposed in 2019.

In Freedom of Information (FOI) data obtained by The Student, the university admitted: “The LGBT+ subcommittee has not yet been fully set up so there is no list of members nor any materials”.

This comes after the previous convenor of the university’s LGBT subcommittee stepped down from the role. The appointment of this convenor was labelled as “clearly biased” by students, as this convenor helped to organise a gender-critical book launch in October 2023.

Read More: BREAKING: Calls for Mathieson to resign after LGBT committee member arranges gender-critical book launch

The Student can reveal that since stepping down, the then-convenor has been promoted to a senior leadership role at the university.

The previous convenor also sat on the Academic Freedom and Freedom of Expression working group, which has made progress since being formed less than a year ago following the controversial second attempted screening of Adult Human Female.

The directors of the film describe it as: “The first UK documentary feature to look at the clash between women’s rights and trans ideology.” 

A number of organisations at the university, including Staff Pride Network and University of Edinburgh Feminist Society, released statements in response to the screenings describing the film as “transphobic.” 

Read More: University of Edinburgh to host third attempt at screening Adult Human Female

In meeting minutes from 28 September, the Academic Freedom and Freedom of Expression working group confirmed it had met “recently” and that there would be “increasing opportunity” for the EDI committee to engage with it.

The university is also currently hiring a full-time senior project officer for the Academic Freedom and Freedom of Expression working group.

A total of 7 members of the University Executive – the group which oversees and approves the implementation of university policies – sit on the Academic Freedom and Freedom of Expression working group, raising questions about “transparency”, as the group is supposed to be accountable to the Executive. 

The University Executive also includes the whole senior leadership team.

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The Staff Pride Network told The Student members were concerned about the “creation” of the working group, “notably that they have failed to engage with any of the actual experts in the field of academic freedom who exist in the university community”.

They added: “There has been no transparency around how this group is engaging with those affected.”

Gender Liberation, a student group focused on the role of gender as a social construct, told The Student it was “concerned with matters of gender identity and sexuality” both in general and on campus.

It continued: “We are disappointed to hear that the LGBTQ+ subcommittee has been defunct for several months, and that there seems to have been limited effort put into finding a new convenor, which should ensure LGBTQ+ staff and students voices are heard by university management.”

A spokesperson for the University of Edinburgh said: 

“The University promotes equality and diversity across all that we do, seeking to eliminate discrimination and create an inclusive culture.

“We have a well-established Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee which brings together staff and student representatives from across the University to provide oversight on our progress to raise awareness around EDI activities, including race, gender, LGBT+ and disability equality.

“Work is currently underway to set up an LGBT+ subcommittee, which will further enhance this EDI work.”

LGBTQ Flag” by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory – PNNL is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.