This talk, entitled ‘Who put the ‘GI’ in Sogi*?’, is being undertaken today at 14.30 at the Van Emden Lecture Theatre, Edith Morley Building, given by Dr Holly Lawford-Smith and facilitated by Rosa Freedman of the University of Reading. During the talk they will argue that Conversion Therapy bills should be about sexual orientation alone.
Reading-based LGBT+ organisations Reading Pride, Club F.O.D. and SupportU have shared an open letter in response to the talk.
Like Reading Pride, Club F.O.D. and SupportU, we are concerned about whether there are adequate safeguards in place should this talk – which we believe could actively challenge the identity and existence of trans people – go ahead.
RUSU believes in welcoming free speech and allowing students and staff to express their views and engage in conversation. We also want to be creating welcoming and safe spaces for all students. Therefore, if we, or the University, choose to hold a talk on such a topical matter, we feel it is important that speakers from both sides of the topical platform are in attendance to maintain balance and to have open conversation. We also believe strongly that adequate support must be put in place to ensure students’ wellbeing.
Reading Pride, Club F.O.D. and SupportU, on behalf of the LGBT+ community of Reading, have asked “that the university reconsiders the consent given for this lecture to take place on 25th April and meet with representatives of the LGBT+ community on and off campus to identify and implement safeguards that support the university's trans students.”
As your students’ union, we echo these calls to action, and consequently, we have raised concerns with the University around safeguarding, potential disruption to exams and whether correct procedures have been followed with regards to this event.
We want to reassure you, our members, that we are here for you. Please do get in touch if you want to discuss this with a member of our officer team or if you require any support in light of this event.
*For reference: GI = Gender Identity. SO = Sexual Orientation.