A sociologist behind a study into whether social scientists at universities feel censored over their views on trans issues says she had her own views censored by her university.
Dr Laura Favaro began penning her research in March 2020 at City, University of news/london/index.html” id=”mol-865da2f0-dd02-11ed-97df-57a871ca1a3e” target=”_self”>London.
In it, scholars told her they had endured threats of violence over the news/gender-ideology/index.html” id=”mol-865872d0-dd02-11ed-97df-57a871ca1a3e” target=”_self”>gender debate, feared reprisals and were ‘all so afraid’.
But after an article for the magazine Times Higher Education – which spoke of a ‘culture of silencing and fear’ – she said City stopped her from publishing it.
Dr Favaro claimed: ‘Those with a responsibility to support me have frustrated my ability to progress with the research or denied expected support via actions as well as omissions to act. This includes being ignored, ostracised, bullied, harassed – ending with a dismissal and confiscation of my data.
Dr Laura Favaro began penning her research in March 2020 at City, University of London
After an article for the magazine Times Higher Education – which spoke of a ‘culture of silencing and fear’ – she said City stopped her from publishing it
‘It feels like a never-ending nightmare, dystopian, so unjust. All I have been trying to do is my job as a sociologist. There was a social conflict, so I asked questions, collected data, reported on the findings, offered an analysis. That is my job.
‘In contrast to all my expectations, I leave with poor employment prospects because I have been unable to publish findings or even attend interviews. My experience at City has left me exhausted, traumatised and with broken self-esteem.’
‘I want my research data back. I want to make the anonymised survey accessible to other researchers by depositing in the UK Data Archive as per my commitment to the funder and participants, and I want to publish findings. I owe this to myself, my family, my participants, and society,’ she told The Telegraph.
Dr Favaro is now taking City to an employment tribunal, claiming harassment, victimisation and whistleblowing detriment, as well as discrimination against for her protected philosophical belief in the reality of biological sex.
She had been invited from Spain to go to City to do the study, which was was funded with £18,000 from the Equality and Human Rights Commission and £10,000 from the British Academy.
Transgender people and their supporters march along Piccadilly during London’s second Trans Pride protest march for equality in September 2020
Her summary report on her findings for the EHRC has still not been published.
Dr Favaro’s research came in the form of 50 individual interviews with gender studies academics.
It also took in a survey of 650 social scientists, a tranche of documents and scores of tweets.
She said that she was told the study had ‘become an institutionally sensitive issue’.
Dr Favaro also alleged she was informed ‘City considers my data to be dangerous’ and is ‘frightened of making it public’.
Dr Sahra Taylor, a City lecturer, also complained about it and said it was an ‘attack piece on trans people and our existences’ that has ‘clearly caused harm to many interviewed’.
Dr Favaro claims City then locked the email account she used to communicate with survey respondents.
She said it demanded she hand over all of her interview and survey data and delete any copies of it.
City then are said to have made her redundant on March 31 – she says she had a permanent contract.
It meant she was not able to publish her survey or release it anywhere else.
Peter Daly, a partner at London law firm Doyle Clayton, is he lawyer and said: ‘Dr Favaro’s treatment raises significant and concerning questions about the freedom of academics to properly pursue research.
‘We are in the process of preparing an employment tribunal claim on her behalf, which we anticipate will succeed if litigated to a conclusion.’
City, University of London, said it was ‘unable to comment on employment matters relating to individual members of staff’.
But it added ‘we refute the allegations made against us and reject the context in which they are presented’ and ‘take our obligations with respect to ethics and integrity very seriously’.
The spokesman said: ‘At City, we have a legal obligation to protect freedom of expression that we take very seriously.
‘We uphold academic freedom of inquiry in our education and research and are committed to ensuring that free and open-minded discussion can take place.
‘As controller of any personal data processed in the course of any research it is also very important to City that personal data is processed in compliance with data protection legislation.
‘City has a robust framework in place to support compliance.’
EHRC said: ‘We agreed to publish the summary report provided to us by Dr Favaro once her final report was published, as this would enable us to link, as appropriate, to her wider findings.
‘Due to legal proceedings it would be inappropriate to comment further.’
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