King’s College London puts pressure on academics to work with Stonewall

Procedures for applying for promotion at King’s College London may discriminate against gender-critical academics, a recently published Telegraph article reveals. 

To apply for promotion at KCL, academics are required to submit an 8 page document, one page of which is dedicated to “Inclusion and Support”. Applicants are instructed to use this section to describe how they “create an inclusive environment” and to refer to “activity undertaken to support the university’s equality, diversity and inclusion ambitions”. Examples of activities which aid chances of promotion are given: they include participating in “Proudly King’s” and other groups such as “Athena Swan, Race Equality and Stonewall LGBTQ groups”.  

None of the groups listed by KCL are dedicated to improving women’s sex-based rights in academia. Indeed, it appears that campaigning for women’s sex-based rights will not be recognised when applying for promotion. This may constitute indirect discrimination against gender-critical academics, who are unlikely to work with Stonewall or Athena Swan. Stonewall has compared women campaigning for sex-based rights to racists. Athena Swan advised universities to stop collecting data on the sex of staff. Indirect discrimination is illegal in the UK under the Equality Act, 2010. Universities also have a duty under the Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Act, 2023, to ensure that holding “controversial… opinions” does not result in “the likelihood of… securing promotion… being reduced”. 

Stonewall has advocated “no debate” on its views on gender, and it is highly likely that KCL’s affiliation with Stonewall has played a major role in shaping its policies regarding promotion. When submitting to the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index, KCL was asked ‘Does the organisation proactively recognise contributions to LGBT inclusion activity during employee performance appraisals?’. KCL responded by quoting its guidance for promotion. It appears that KCL’s slanted promotions policy is no mere oversight but a deliberate choice. It ensures gender-critical academics are less likely to be promoted, and is an attack on academic freedom.