A sociologist behind a study into whether university social scientists feel censored about their views on trans issues says her views have been censored by her university.
Dr. Laura Favaro began writing her research in March 2020 at City, University of London.
In it, scholars told her they had endured threats of violence because of the gender debate, feared reprisals, and were “all so afraid.”
But after an article for Times Higher Education – which spoke of a “culture of silence 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 move the investigation forward or have denied expected support through both actions and omissions. This includes being ignored, banned, bullied, harassed – ending with a firing and confiscation of my data.
Dr. Laura Favaro began writing her research in March 2020 at City, University of London
After an article for Times Higher Education – which talked about a “culture of silence and fear” – she said City stopped her from publishing it
“It feels like a never-ending nightmare, dystopian, so unjust. All I’ve 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. Thats my job.
“Contrary to all my expectations, I am leaving with poor job prospects because I have not been able to publish findings or even attend interviews. My experience at City has left me exhausted, traumatized and with a broken self-esteem.
‘I want my research data back. I want to make the anonymised survey accessible to other researchers by depositing it in the UK Data Archive, in line with my commitment to the funder and participants, and I want to publish my findings. I owe this to myself, my family, my participants and society,” she added to the Telegraph.
Dr. Favaro is now taking City to an employment tribunal, claiming harassment, victimization and whistleblower damages, as well as discrimination over her protected philosophical belief in the reality of biological sex.
She had been invited to City from Spain to do the study, which 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 the Piccadilly during the second Trans Pride protest march for equality in London on September 12, 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 included a survey of 650 social scientists, a series of documents and dozens of tweets.
She said she was told the study had “become an institutionally sensitive issue.”
Dr. Favaro also claimed she was informed “The city considers my data dangerous” and is “afraid to make it public.”
Dr. Sahra Taylor, a city educator, also complained about it, saying it was an “attack on transgender people and our very existence” that “clearly harmed many interviewees.”
Dr. Favaro claims that City then locked the email account she used to communicate with respondents.
She said it demanded she hand over all of her interview and survey records and delete all copies of them.
City then sacked her on March 31 – she said she had a permanent contract.
It meant she couldn’t publish or release her survey elsewhere.
Peter Daly, partner at London law firm Doyle Clayton, is a lawyer and said: ‘Dr Favaro’s treatment raises important and worrying questions about the freedom of academics to conduct research appropriately.
“We are preparing a claim to the labor tribunal on her behalf, which we expect to succeed if brought to a successful conclusion.”
City, University of London, said it was ‘unable to comment on employment issues relating to individual members of staff’.
But it added “we refute the allegations against us and reject the context in which they are presented” and “take very seriously our obligations regarding ethics and integrity.”
The spokesperson said: ‘At City we have a legal obligation to protect freedom of expression which we take very seriously.
‘We stand for academic freedom of inquiry in our teaching and research and are committed to free and unbiased discussion.
“As the controller of all personal data processed in the course of an investigation, it is also very important to City that personal data is processed in accordance with data protection law.
“The city has a robust framework in place to support compliance.”
EHRC said: ‘We have agreed to publish the summary report that Dr Favaro has provided to us once her final report is published, as this would allow us to link to her wider findings where appropriate.
“Due to legal proceedings, it would be inappropriate to comment further.”