Sussex professor resigns after transgender rights row

Kathleen Stock, the philosophy professor targeted over her views on gender identification and transgender rights, has announced her resignation from the University of Sussex.

Stock’s resignation comes three weeks after a protest by some students at the university’s Brighton campus, which included posters calling for her dismissal.

In an email to staff, Adam Tickell, Sussex’s vice-chancellor, said: “We had hoped that Prof Stock would feel able to return to work, and we would have supported her to do so. She has decided that recent events have meant that this will not be possible, and we respect and understand that decision. We will miss her many contributions, from which the university has benefited during her time here.”

Stock posted on Twitter: “This has been a very difficult few years, but the leadership’s approach more recently has been admirable and decent. I hope that other institutions in similar situations can learn from this.”

A university spokesperson said: “Over the past several weeks, the University of Sussex has vigorously and unequivocally defended Prof Kathleen Stock’s right to exercise her academic freedom and lawful freedom of speech, free from bullying and harassment of any kind.

“These freedoms and protections apply to and benefit us all, and we will defend them today and in the future. Rather than conflicting with our progress on equality, diversity and inclusion, these freedoms and protections are in place to support those with protected characteristics, particularly those who are under-represented or disadvantaged. Universities must remain places where everyone – staff or student – has the right to, and benefits from, lawful freedom of 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 has not been the case for Prof Stock …

“There were no substantive allegations of wrongdoing made against her. Prof Stock leaves the University of Sussex with our gratitude for her significant contributions as a teacher and academic. Prof Stock’s successes in the field of philosophy have been of great benefit to the university. Her departure is a loss.

“While the events that have led us here have been extremely difficult, we are determined to learn from them, and we would hope that other organisations might also do so. As a values-led organisation, Sussex will continue to find new ways for our community to come together, no matter how much we disagree or how challenging the issue.”

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