Adam Tickell (L) has been criticised for defending Kathleen Stock once again. (YouTube)
The vice chancellor at the University of Sussex has said he will “take action” against students who “discriminate” against Kathleen Stock based on her anti-trans views.
In recent weeks, a student-led campaign has called on the university to terminate Stock’s employment – however, the university has repeatedly defended her from criticism.
Adam Tickell, vice chancellor at the University of Sussex, told students in an email on Thursday (21 October) that Stock’s “gender critical” views are protected under the Equality Act and that he will “not tolerate discrimination based on protected characteristics”.
“As you will know, over the past two weeks, the University of Sussex has vigorously and unequivocally defended the right of a member of our staff, professor Kathleen Stock, to exercise her academic freedom and lawful freedom of speech,” Tickell said in the email, which has been seen by PinkNews.
“We have clearly and consistently said that all members of our community have the right to work and learn, free from bullying and harassment.
“These freedoms and protections apply to and benefit us all. A vital part of a healthy university community is the ability to discuss, debate and respectfully disagree with a wide range of views and beliefs.
“This is all the more important when the rights of people to hold the beliefs in question are protected under law, as is the case for those with gender-critical views which is a protected philosophical belief.”
Tickell’s email refers to a controversial judgement made in a high-profile legal case taken by tax researcher Moya Forstater in June. A tribunal ruled that “gender critical” views are protected under equalities law under the protected characteristic of “religion or belief”.
In his ruling, Mr Justice Choudhury emphasised that accepting “gender critical” beliefs as a protected characteristic does not mean people can “misgender trans persons with impunity”.
Writing to students, Tickell said: “The university cannot and will not tolerate discrimination based on protected characteristics, including sex and philosophical belief, and we will take action through our policies and procedures if this happens.”
University of Sussex student says vice chancellor’s views are ‘worse than I’d imagined’
Tickell has been heavily criticised by Tom Pashby, a non-binary master’s student at the University of Sussex.
“I was already pessimistic about the university and Adam Tickell’s ability to get this right, but when I read the email, it was far worse than I’d imagined,” Pashby told PinkNews.
“I don’t think he’s at all interested in the perspectives of trans and non-binary students. It seems like he views us as a homogenous, aggressive blob which is a threat to the university.” Pashby said that view is “ironic” given the university wouldn’t exist without its students.
They are concerned about Tickell’s promise to “take action” against students who don’t respect Stock’s “gender critical” beliefs.
“It’s almost like he’s just said to the whole student body, and in particular the LGBTQIA+ student community – we’re coming for you. It’s deeply embarrassing for him to have put himself in this position.”
Pashby added: “There are so many people who have come out in support of the trans and non-binary community that I think it would take up far too much of the university’s valuable time to take punitive action against all these people who happen to be on the right side of history.”
Stock recently released a controversial book in which she set out her views, based on a belief that biological sex is immutable and more important than gender, “particularly when it comes to law and policy”.
She has previously said that “trans women are still males with male genitalia” and branded LGBT+ charity Stonewall “a threat to freedom of speech”. Stock vehemently denies that she is transphobic.
PinkNews has contacted the University of Sussex for comment.