Oxford debate society to offer support and welfare resources for students over Kathleen Stock talk

Radcliffe Camera, Oxford

University of Oxford’s debating society will offer support and welfare resources to students over a talk so-called ‘gender critical’ activist Kathleen Stock is giving this month. 

The Oxford Union, the university’s 200-year-old debating society, is set to host a talk by former Sussex University philosophy professor Kathleen Stock on 30 May, as part of its Trinity Term calendar of events. 

The academic has sparked controversy over her trans exclusionary views, although she states she is not transphobic, and quit her job at Sussex University after accusations of transphobia by students and activists. 

In a statement released on Facebook, the student society will provide “welfare resources” on the evening of the talk due to “the sensitive nature of the themes discussed”. 

“On the 30th of May, Professor Stock will be interviewed by the president. After this, our members will have the opportunity to question and challenge Professor Stock at our despatch boxes, where any member who asks a question will have an opportunity to ask a follow up question,” the statement reads. 

“This format is designed to uphold the union’s founding principle of freedom of expression for both our members and our guest speakers. Attendees can use this opportunity to respectfully engage with and challenge Professor Stock’s views. 

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“Given the sensitive nature of the themes discussed at this event, there will also be additional welfare resources available on the evening. 

“Moreover, it will be possible for members to ask questions anonymously, through a link that will be circulated prior to the day of the event.” 

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Statement released by the Oxford Union in regards to Kathleen Stock’s appearance (Oxford Union on Facebook)

The announcement comes after multiple Oxford colleges passed motions condemning Stock’s appearance. A protest has been planned and the university’s LGBTQ+ society has criticised the event. 

Colleges including St Edmund Hall, Mansfield, Christ Church, St Anne’s and St Hilda’s have all passed motions against the event, with Teddy Hall calling for the condemnation of “the union for platforming Kathleen Stock and call on her invite to be rescinded in support of the trans community”. 

Similarly, St Anne’s motion said the union “made the choice to amplify a voice that actively harms trans students, trans people and the trans community at large”.

In response, students at the university are also preparing to protest against Stock’s appearance and use the rally as a platform to launch a new trans-focused pride event, called Oxford Trans+ Pride.

The pride will seek to celebrate the trans community in the city, as well as taking a stance opposing Stock’s viewpoint. 

The president of the university’s LGBTQ+ society, Amiad Haran Diman, told PinkNews: “Our motivation is not to attack the union or Kathleen Stock, because we think they love the attention. 

“The reason we are doing this is for the trans community of Oxford – it’s for our trans siblings so that they know someone is standing up for them.”

“Dismayed and appalled”

When Stock’s appearance at the Oxford Union was announced in April, the university’s LGBTQ+ society slammed the event, with the student group saying it was “dismayed and appalled” by it. 

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A spokesperson said: “Stock has been campaigning against trans rights, labelling them as dangerous to women, calling for the exclusion of trans people from the LGBTQ+ movement, supporting conversion therapy, and supporting hate groups such as the LGB Alliance and Lesbian Project.

“Once again, the union is disregarding the welfare of its LGBTQ+ members under the guise of free speech.”

The group’s statement continued: “Letting Stock bring her campaign of hate and misinformation to Oxford, allowing her to stoke fear against trans people without challenge or opposition – right before Pride month and at a time when the trans community is facing a constant attack on its lives and rights – is a move we vehemently oppose and will actively protest [against].”

Stock hit back on Twitter against the LGBTQ+ society’s statement, saying it contains “several falsehoods” and though she is “not a lawyer”, it is “probably defamatory”. 

“Also, it makes you look utterly ridiculous,” she added.

PinkNews has contacted Kathleen Stock’s representatives for comment.

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