Freedom of speech at the University of Bristol

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Professor Hugh Brady
Vice Chancellor and President
Vice Chancellor’s Office
Senate House, Tyndall Avenue

Dear Professor Brady,

As feminist scholars, we are writing to express our concern at the news that disciplinary procedures have been initiated against a PhD student who petitioned against a discriminatory event associated with the University of Bristol.

The student, Nic Shall, wrote a petition opposing an event organised by the anti-trans campaign group “A Woman’s Place”. Shall has been accused by the Vice Chancellor’s office of writing a letter containing false information, attempting to suppress the free speech of fellow students, and bringing the university into disrepute. They have been threatened with expulsion.

We believe that the disciplinary action against Shall represents an attack on the democratic right to free expression, and that it is this action that brings the University of Bristol into disrepute. The student in question is, in effect, being threatened with expulsion for writing a petition. If the University of Bristol is to uphold the principle of free speech and encourage political debate, then students and staff must be afforded the right to openly express their principled opposition to bigotry and discrimination.

We further insist that Shall’s letter did not contain false information in stating that “A Women’s Place” provide a platform for hate speech. This group is committed solely to campaigning against trans rights, as enshrined in legislation such as the Gender Recognition Act 2004 and the Equality Act 2010. Speakers at events hosted by “A Women’s Place” have propagated ignorant and harmful narratives through the use of offensive stereotypes, drawing a false dichotomy between trans rights and women’s rights, and misrepresenting both empirical research and current laws. The group has thereby played a role in creating moral panic about trans people’s role in public life, and contributed to atmosphere of fear and shame among trans people.

Finally, we believe that the right to free speech must be balanced with a responsibility to promote respect and justice for all. The University of Bristol Equality and Diversity Policy states that the University aims to create an inclusive environment that respects the diversity of its staff and students. It further commits to complying with the requirements of the Equality Act 2010, which include a duty to advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not. The University of Bristol holds an Athena SWAN bronze award and is a Stonewall Diversity champion; both schemes require that the institution actively uphold the right of trans students and staff to participate in academic life on a free and equitable basis.

In threatening Shall with expulsion and offering tacit support to an openly anti-trans event, the University of Bristol has demonstrated that it does not provide an environment in which trans students and staff can reasonably participate in fair and open political debate. Both actions clearly violate the principles of the University’s Equality and Diversity policy, as well as the Athena SWAN charter and Stonewall Diversity Champion scheme.

As such, we hope that the Vice Chancellor’s office will act swiftly to dismiss the disciplinary against Nic Shall, and apologise for the hurt caused to trans students and staff by the institution’s position on the “A Woman’s Place” event.

Yours sincerely,

Professor Surya Monro (University of Huddersfield)
Professor Sally Hines (University of Leeds)
Dr Carol Steele (ex. University of Salford – now retired)
Dr Zowie Davy (De Montfort University)
Dr Ruth Pearce (University of Leeds)
Dr Joanna Cuttell (University of Warwick)
Dr Kirsty Liddiard (University of Sheffield)
Dr Katherine Hubbard (University of Surrey)
Dr Michael Toze (University of Lincoln)
Dr Ben Vincent (University of York)
Dr Tray Yeadon-Lee (University of Huddersfield)
Dr Kirsty Lohman (University of Surrey)
Dr Nazia Hussein (Birmingham City University)
Dr Reva Yunus (independent scholar)
Dr Anna Bull (University of Portsmouth)
Dr Karen Cuthbert (University of Leeds)
Dr Kim Allen (University of Leeds)
Dr Milena Kremakova (Humboldt University Berlin)
Dr Tiffany Page (University of Cambridge)
Dr Carla A. Pfeffer (University of South Carolina)
Dr Igi Moon (University of Roehampton)
Dr T.J. Jourian (Oakland University)
Dr Mary Ann S. Saunders (University of British Columbia)
Professor D-L Stewart (Colorado State University)
Wiktor Dynarski (Warsaw University)
Dr Catherine Baker (University of Hull)
Dr Julia Bahner (University of Leeds)
Dr Jen Slater (Sheffield Hallam University)
CN Lester (University of Huddersfield)
Natacha Kennedy (Goldsmiths College and University College London)
Dr Julia Downes (The Open University)
Sonja Erikainen (University of Edinburgh)
Dr Julia Swallow (University of Leeds)
Nat Raha (University of Sussex and Edinburgh College of Art)
Dr stef shuster (Appalachian State University)
Dr Jaimie Veale (University of Waikato)
Professor Joy Ladin (Yeshiva University)
Dr Eliza Steinbock (Leiden University)
Dr Z Nicolazzo (University of Arizona)
Dr Meg-John Barker (The Open University)
Dr Thamar Klein (University of Cologne)
Mijke van der Drift (Goldsmiths College, University of London)
Dr David Andrew Griffiths (University of Surrey)
Dr Samantha Lyle (King’s College London)
Alex Drummond (independent scholar)
Dr Chris Rossdale (London School of Economics)
Jim Russell (University of Warwick)
Craig Gent (University of Warwick
Stephanie Woodcock (University of Liverpool)
Rhiannon Cuttell (King’s College London)
Liam Kelly (University of Leeds)
Anna Langley (University of Cambridge)
Russell Christie (Brunel University)
Dr Sarah Scott (University of Liverpool)
Dr Caoimhe Mader McGuinness (Kingston University)
Dr Adi Kuntsman (Manchester Metropolitan University)
Dr Uditi Sen (University of Nottingham)
Dr Kayte Stockoe (University of Warwick)
Elizabeth Ablett (University of Warwick)
Dr Sam Soloman (University of Sussex)
Dr Francis Ray White (University of Westminster)
Jo McKillop (University of Roehampton)
Ibtisam Ahmed (University of Nottingham)
Dr Onni Gust (University of Nottingham)
Dr Alexis H. Truong (University of Ottawa)
Rebecca Tadman (Royal College of Art)
Seamus O’Farrell (University of Sussex)
Helen Parsons (independent scholar)
Caroline Metz (University of Manchester)
Daniel Edmondson (University of Nottingham)
James Todd (Durham University)
Samuel Heyes (University of Essex)
Lewis Defrates (University of Cambridge)
Nicole Cochrane (University of Hull)
Dr Laura Colebrooke (University of Exeter)
Professor Paisley Currah (City University of New York)
Shriradha Geigerman (independent scholar)
Dr Kit Heyam (University of Leeds)
Lee-Anne Lawrance (Goldsmiths College, University of London)
Dr Molly Geidel (University of Manchester)
Jane Augsburger (Goldsmiths College, University of London)
Alex Fitzpatrick (University of Bradford)
Laurie Atkinson (Keele University)
Sahra Taylor (City, University of London)
Debbie Wood (Be-North Trans Support & Development)
Professor Jennifer Saul (University of Sheffield)
Professor Constantine Sandis (University of Hertfordshire)
Professor Shannon Dea (University of Waterloo)
Jude Hair (University of Wyoming)
Professor Zoe Matthews (University of Southampton)
Professor Janet D. Stemwedel (San Jose State University)
Professor Susan Stryker (University of Arizona)
Marianna Kasperska-Zegar (independent scholar)
Iwo Nord (Södertörn University)
Victoria Ida Nicholls (Bournemouth University)
Dr Julien Murzi (University of Salzburg)
Nicholas Ray (University of Waterloo)
Deborah Ashby (University of Wales Trinity St David)
Professor Aron Edidin (New College of Florida)
Dr Sarah Jane Pattison (University of Southampton – now retired)
Anaïs Duong-Pedica (Åbo Akademi University)
Professor Andrea Cornwall (University of Sussex)
Professor Clare Hemmings (London School of Economics)
Dr Debra Ferreday (Lancaster University)
Professor Jo Brewis (The Open University)
Dr Saoirse Caitlin O’Shea (University of Leicester)
Dr Aren Aizura (University of Minnesota)
Dr Sima Shakhsari (University of Minnesota)
Sanaz Raji (independent scholar)
Dr Aline Courtois (University of Bath)
Professor Feona Attwood (Middlesex University)
Lesley Gabriel (Birmingham City University)
Dr Helen Bowes-Catton (The Open University)
Sabine Sharp (University of Manchester)
Dr Daniel Fairbrother (University of Oulu)
Dr Annadís G. Rúdólfsdóttir (Univerity of Iceland)
Rachel Hubbard (UWE Bristol)
Samantha Summers (Queen’s University Canada)
Lee Large (Durham University)
Lilith Brouwers (University of Leeds)
Dr Rebecca Davnall (University of Liverpool)
Dr Sarah Burton (Durham University)
Sinead Wilson (The University of Queensland)
Professor Carol Haigh (Manchester Metropolitan University)
Kat Brennan (Oxford Brookes University)
Dr Liz Gloyn (Royal Holloway, University of London)
Dr Adele Mercier (Queen’s University Canada)
Dr Hannah McCann (University of Melbourne)
Dr James Beebe  (University at Buffalo)
Naomi Daw (University of Sussex)
Katharine Peddie (University of Kent)
LJ Potter (Coventry University)
Dr Susan Iacovou (University of Roehampton)
Dr Rose Holyoak (University of Winchester)
Karen Pollock (Bi Pride UK)
Julia Rose Lewis (Cardiff University)
Professor Ann Garry (California State University, Los Angeles)
Dr Laura Seymour (Bath Spa University)
Dr Tom Betteridge (University of Essex)
Professor Naomi Scheman (University of Minnesota)
Dr Matt Lodder (University of Essex)
Dr Thomas Swann (Loughborough University)
Dr Carrie Etter (Bath Spa University)
Dr Elaine Swan (University of Sussex)
Dr Joanna Paschedag (Middlesex University)
Dr Samantha Walton (Bath Spa University)
Gabrielle Storey (University of Winchester)
Dr Christina Richards (Nottingham Centre for Transgender Health)
Dr Louise Livesey (University of Gloucestershire)
Lisa Kalayji (University of Edinburgh)
Dr Abigail Day (University of Nottingham)
Alex MacFarlane (University of Oxford)
Dr Sasha Garwood (University of Sheffield)
Hannah Graydon (University of Roehampton)
Rowan Davis (University of Oxford)
Orla White (University of Sussex)
Dr Sophie Jones (Birkbeck, University of London)
Dr Ross Balzaretti (University of Nottingham)
Valentina Puddu (Queen Mary, University of London)
Dr Kari Maund (independent scholar)
LucasDonna Hedlund (King’s College London)
Os Keyes (University of Washington)
Dr Charlotte Morris (University of Sussex)
Ruth Tarlo (University of Nottingham)
Professor Carrie Paechter (Nottingham Trent University)
Lyman Gamberton (SOAS, University of London)
Monique Botha (University of Surrey)
Jenny Harris (University of Cambridge)
Dr Mari Greenfield (independent scholar)
Jo Smith (University of Surrey)
Dr John McTague (University of Bristol)
Ricki Coughlan (Charles Darwin University)
Dr Nora Williams (independent scholar)
Professor A.W. Peet (University of Toronto)
Christian Zsilavetz (Pride School Atlanta)
Dr Naomi Hetherington (University of Sheffield)
Dr Lisa Purse (University of Reading)
Barbora Veselá (Charles University)
Laken Brooks (Emory & Henry College)
Andrew Siva (Emory & Henry College)
Dr Hannah Boast (University of Birmingham)
Dr Serena Iervolino (King’s College London)
Annette Pryce (LGBT Executive Member (NUT section) National Education Union)
Dr Beatrice Ivey (University of Leeds)
Dr Catherine Lester (University of Warwick)
Ben Farnworth (Edge Hill University)
Dr AC Baker (independent scholar)
Dr DL Clements (Imperial College London)
Barbara Grant (University of Liverpool)
Dr Victoria Dawson (University College London)
Dr Tom Price (Utrecht University)
Dr Nikki Hayfield (UWE Bristol)
Dr Fran Amery (University of Bath)
Dr Jennie Ferrell (UWE Bristol)
Emily Rose Teece (University of Leicester)
Dr Zoë Shacklock (University of Warwick)
Dr Charlotte Stevens (Birmingham City University)
Marianthi Kourti (University of Birmingham)
Dr Emanuela Bianchi (New York University)
Dr Matt Weiner (University of Vermont)
Dr Megan Blomfield (University of Bristol)
Dr William Pooley (University of Bristol)
ecilea Mun (Central Michigan University)
Dr Elif Ceylan Özsoy (University of Exeter)
Dr Amy Tooth Murphy (Royal Holloway, University of London)
Ani Ritchie (Southampton Solent University)
Toni Harrison (independent scholar)
Milena Popova (UWE Bristol)
Dr Clara Quinion (independent scholar)
Jessica Sandelson (University of Oxford)
Lucas Platero (independent scholar)
Professor Andy Danford (University of Leicester, retired)
Anamarija Horvat (Northumbria University)
Kate Marston (Cardiff University)
Lois Stone (University of Manchester)
Dr Harlan Weaver (Kansas State University)
Lorraine Code (York University Toronto)
Jack Doyle (University of Oxford)
Ellie Milne-Brown (University of Oxford)
Laura Marshall (University College London)
Isela González Vázquez (University of Sheffield)
Hannah Rossiter (University of Auckland)
Hershel Russell (independent scholar)
Stacey Prince (independent scholar)
Maureen Colclough (University of British Columbia)
Dr Jamison Green (independent scholar)
Dr Benjamin M. Baader (University of Manitoba)
Rachel Ann Burns (University College London)
Dr Emily Luise Hart (University of Liverpool)
Helena Navarrete Plana (University of Warwick)
Ky Andrea (University of Warwick)
Dr Erich N Pitcher (Oregon State University)
Dr Clara Barker (VC of the LGBT+ Advisory Group, University of Oxford)
Penelope Ehrhardt (University of Oxford)
Dr Alex Madva (California State Polytechnic University, Pomona)
Katja May (University of Kent)
Sean Mulcahy (University of Warwick)
Jeevan Ravindran (University of Oxford)
Josephine Sirotkin (University of Leeds)
Jess Fairbairn (University of Manchester)
Dr Gwyneth Lonergan (University of Sheffield)
Angela Ford (University of Oxford)
Nancy Huang (University of Bristol)
Dr Christopher Hinesley (Rochester Institute of Technology)
Lor Anderson (independent scholar)
Ava Ladner (University of Hawaii)
Dr Chris Dietz (University of Leeds)
Reubs Walsh (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam)
Megan Hughes (University of Oxford)
Dr Andrew Godfrey (independent scholar)
Elissa O’Connell (University of Bristol)
Dr Lucy Hodgetts (University of Leeds)
Dr James Harland (University of York and Northumbria University)
Tim Rowbotham (University of York)
Dr Brian Riedel (Rice University)
Dr Remi Joseph-Salisbury (Leeds Beckett University)
Dr Azeezat Johnson (Queen Mary University of London)
Dr Laura Connelly (University of Salford)
Professor Graciela Slesaransky-Poe (Arcadia University)
Dr Trish Salah (Queen’s University Ontario)
Gillian McNaull (Queen’s University Belfast)
Lauren O’Sullivan (Queen’s University Belfast)
Lindsay Lee Miller (University of Sheffield)
Dr Jennifer Cobbe (University of Cambridge)
Tim Squirrell (University of Edinburgh)
Tim Wingard (University of York)
Niamh O’Reilly (University College Cork, National University of Ireland)
Dr John Kemp (independent scholar, ex. University of Coventry)
Josie M. Moore (independent scholar)
Paula Schiefer (University of Aberdeen)
Dr Kate Nambiar (Brighton and Sussex Medical School)
Dr Derek Ruez (University of Tampere)
Dr Kay Kirkpatrick (University of Illinois)
Rachael Horwitz (University College London)
Professor Alison Phipps (University of Sussex)
Dr Charlotte Jones (University of Edinburgh)
Dr Mark Carrigan (University of Cambridge)
Dr Nicholas Hardy (University of Birmingham)
Dr Sarah J. Young (University College London)
Laura Shand (University of Hull)
Claire Potter (Liverpool John Moores University)
Dr Natalie Alana Ashton (University of Vienna)
Professor Andrea Brady (Queen Mary, University of London)
Dr Tam Blaxter (University of Cambridge)
Dr Sukhdev Parhar (NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and University of Glasgow)
Jemma Milburn (Veterinary Medicine University Vienna)
Jae Frith (Manchester Metropolitan University)
Leah Burch (University of Leeds)
Dr Owen Barden (Liverpool Hope University)
Ai Miller (University of Minnesota)
Dr Jill Pluquailec (Sheffield Hallam University)
Amanda Harrison (University of Chester)
Maryam Jameela (University of Sheffield)
Cron Cronshaw (Lancaster University)
Dr Kat Gupta (University of Sussex)
Dr Catherine Tonry (University of Greenwich)
George Haggett (Royal Holloway)
Dr Harriet Palfreyman (University of Manchester)
Alex Hill (Durham University)
Emily Nunn (University of Sheffield)
Miller Power (Durham University)
Chrystel Oloukoï (Harvard University)
Dr Jennifer Hackett (University of Nottingham)
Dr Nathan Stephens Griffin (Durham University)
Farheen Ahmed (University of Oxford)
Gabriale Payne (University of Minnesota)
Professor Vanita Sundaram (University of York)
Dr Rajesh Patel (Manchester Metropolitan University)
Mark Mulligan (The College of William and Mary)
Edith England (Cardiff University)
Lucas Armitage (Durham University)
Alexander Cowan (Harvard University)
Dr Edward Webb (Dickinson College Pennsylvania)
Dr D-M Withers (University of Sussex)
Mary Robson (University of Leeds)
Dr Nancy E. Adams (Pennsylvania State University)
Dr Patrick Keys (Colorado State Unviersity)
Dr Ken Griffin (independent scholar)
Siggi Mackenzie (University of Plymouth)
Dr Madhu Krishnan (University of Bristol)
Dr Wolfgang Wüster (Bangor University)
Abby Harrison (University of Manchester)
Nick Bell (Edinburgh College)
Charlotte Payne (University of Cambridge)
Sakura Byrne (The Open University)
Dr David Huyssen (University of York)
Florence Oulds (University of Cambridge)
Dr S. Artt (Edinburgh Napier University)
Rachel Hollis (University of Leeds)
Emer McHugh (National University of Ireland Galway)
Alicia Andrzejewski (City University of New York)
Ashleigh Rushton (Massey University)
Dr Miranda Fay Thomas (University College Dublin)
Dr Natasha Simonova (University of Oxford)
Dr Louise Geddes (Adelphi University)
Dr Shaun May (University of Kent)
Michael Miller (University of Sheffield)
Larissa Peixoto Gomes (Federal University of Minas Gerais)
Emma Ward (Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour)
Matthew Barnard (Manchester Metropolitan University)
Professor Anthony Mandal (Cardiff University)
Dr Pippa Gardner (University of Sheffield)
Dr Rachel O’Connell (University of Sussex)



376 thoughts on “Freedom of speech at the University of Bristol

  1. Abby Harrison – School of Social Sciences – University of Manchester

    In solidarity. ‘Woman’s Place’ are an abhorrent organisation that are helping to increase the toxicity of wider trans discourse, which is endangering trans and gender non conforming adults, children and young people.


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