Stop the University of Leeds rolling back on Trans equality

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Stop the University of Leeds rolling back on Trans equality

This petition made change with 4,655 supporters!
Chris Minas started this petition to University of Leeds and

We need your help to stop the University of Leeds rolling back on their approach to equality and inclusion for Transgender staff and students!

In 2017, the University of Leeds Equality Policy Unit created a Trans Equality Policy which was progressive and fit-for-purpose. As of 2020, they have since decided to roll back on this policy and replace it with a new, regressive, and unfit policy which puts Trans staff and students at risk of harm.

What’s wrong with the new policy?

Rather than improving on the previous policy, the University has decided to take a backward approach in replacing previous concrete language with vague and feeble promises of ‘aiming to’ and ‘striving for’ equality. Much of the language and terms used are inconsistent and not in line with best practice (i.e. are offensive). In practice, this means the University does not have to do anything stated within this policy, only that they must “strive to” do them.

There are many statements which are qualified with “where applicable” and “where feasible”, such as ‘The University will strive to ensure that its curriculum does not rely on or reinforce negative assumptions about trans people and, where feasible and realistic, that it contains material that positively represents trans people and trans lives’. There is however no indication as to who decides what is applicable and feasible, nor indeed what criteria would be considered when making this decision. Is it ever ‘feasible and realistic’ to speak negatively of Trans people?

The University has omitted key phrases, such as ‘the University undertakes to remove any inappropriate content whenever it appears on the premises’, ‘(transphobic abuse) will be dealt with under the university’s dignity and mutual respect procedures’, and ‘(trans staff) and will not be redeployed against their wishes based on their trans status’. This puts Trans staff at risk of being discriminated against based on their Trans status, and obscures the University’s duty of care toward Trans students.

Who did they consult?

When creating this new draft of the Trans equality policy, the EPU did not consult with any Trans staff or students on their proposed changes. They gave the draft to staff unions for feedback, and then did absolutely nothing to reflect the feedback that was given to them.

At no point during this process did the Equality Policy Unit attempt to consult any Trans students about the proposed draft. This is completely unacceptable and suggests that the University would rather use us as a box-ticking exercise than engage with us meaningfully.

What justifications have the University given?

The EPU has told staff unions that they are unable to update the current IT systems, which put Trans staff and students as risk of being ‘outed’ as Trans. This is against GDPR legislation and puts Trans staff and students at increased risk of transphobic violence.

According to the EPU, the previous 2017 policy ‘promised things that were out of (the University’s) control and that they made promises they cannot actually keep.’ This is completely unacceptable and shows the extent to which the University of Leeds is completely ambivalent towards the needs of their Trans staff and students.

What can we do?

Sign this petition and share the information posted to the Leeds University Union LGBT+ society social media! Both staff unions and representatives of the student body have ceased engagement with the Equality Policy Unit until they scrap their current draft and ensure that they will listen to us meaningfully – please boost this petition and make sure more people know that the University of Leeds is putting Trans staff and students at risk!!

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This petition made change with 4,655 supporters!

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