Kathleen Stock resigned: “The witch is dead”
This is how the students of the University of Sussex who had threatened the teacher and asked for her dismissal are celebrating her resignation. The decision was made after "an absolutely horrible time for me and my family". University's support lukewarm, while other academics attack it: its defense of sex against gender reinforces 'patriarchal status quo'

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Kathleen Stock, the teacher of philosophy at the center of a controversy over his views on gender identification and transgender rights, has announced his resignation from the University of Sussex.

Stock's resignation arrives three weeks after a protest of some students on the University of Brighton campus, which included posters and graffiti calling for his dismissal.

Stock believes that gender identity matters no more than biological sex “when it comes to laws and policies” and that people cannot change their birth sex.

In an email to staff, Adam Tickell, Vice-Chancellor of Sussex, said: “We hoped that Professor Stock would feel able to return to work and we would support her in doing so. Instead he felt based on recent events that this was not possible and we respect and understand that decision. We will miss his many contributions, which the university benefited from during his teaching.”

Stock tweeted that he was sorry to leave: “They have been very difficult years, but the leadership's approach more recently has been admirable and dignified. I hope other institutions in similar situations can learn from this."

He added: “This was it an absolutely horrible time for me and my family. I leave it behind now. Soon to brighter things, I hope.”

A university spokesperson said: “In recent weeks, the University of Sussex has vigorously and unequivocally defended Professor Kathleen Stock's right to exercise her academic freedom and legitimate free speech, free from bullying and harassment by any guy. These freedoms and protections apply to all of us, and we will defend them today and in the future. Rather than conflict with our progress on equality, diversity and inclusion, these freedoms and protections also support those who need protection, particularly those who are under-represented or disadvantaged.

“Universities must remain places where everyone, whether employee or student, is entitled to and enjoys legitimate free speech. The university has been consistent and clear that everyone in our community has the right to work and learn, free from bullying and harassment of any kind, which was not the case in Professor Stock's case. There have been no substantive allegations of wrongdoing against her. Professor Stock leaves the University of Sussex with our gratitude for her significant contributions as a teacher and academic. Prof Stock's achievements in the field of philosophy have been of great benefit to the university. His departure is a loss."

Kathleen Stock and her latest essay Material Girls

Michelle Donelan, universities minister for England, said: “It is absolutely appalling that the toxic environment at the University of Sussex has made it untenable for Professor Kathleen Stock to continue in her role. No academic should ever fear for their personal safety."

In a post on Twitter , Donelan then asked “for universities to step forward and offer Stock an appropriate position on their faculties. We must defend free speech.".

An Instagram account claiming to represent trans students at the university posted: “Huge victory for LGBTQ+ students at Sussex today… Let's take a minute to enjoy it.”

Earlier this month Stock said that the police had advised her to stay away from campus, and that he feared his 18-year career at the university was “effectively over” after the Sussex branch of the University and Colleges Union called an investigation into institutional transphobiaAnd.

After the protest against Stock, the students' union at the University of Sussex said : “Students have the right to protest when their rights are questioned or when there are discriminatory narratives about their being inclusive.” It continued by saying that trans and non-binary students had complained of feeling threatened and lacked support from the university.

Labor MP Taiwo Owatemi, shadow minister for equalities, also entered the controversy after said she was “worried” from the Stock's role as a trustee for the LGB Alliance, which campaigns for rights based on sexual orientation rather than gender identity. But Owatemi stressed that he was “not judging Professor Stock's academic work, and did not call for action against her.”

The philosophy teacher was awarded an OBE in the 2021 New Year Honors List for services to higher education. But hundreds of academics have criticized the decision , signing an open letter that decried Stock's comments about transgender and gender non-conforming people.

The letter stated that his “Harmful rhetoric” about transgender and gender non-conforming people reinforced “the patriarchal status quo. Academic freedom comes with responsibility; we should not use that freedom to harm people, especially the most vulnerable members of our community,” the letter added. Confuse concern for i Stock work damage with threats to academic freedom it hides important issues."

original article here

translation by Marina Terragni

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