Dr Laura Favaro’s research revealed female academics are bullied into silence over their views on gender – now she’s been silenced and ousted too

Dr Laura Favaro's research revealed female academics are bullied into silence over their views on gender. Now, in the ultimate bitter irony, she's been silenced and ousted too.

There’s an excellent article in the Mail today by Jill Foster, detailing the shocking cancellation of gender critical sociologist Dr Laura Favaro, who dared to study academia’s increasingly toxic dispute over the relative importance of biological sex and self-declared gender identity with an open and inquiring mind.

You can find out more about Laura’s crowdfunder and show your support for this brave and principled early career academic by clicking here.

Here’s an extract from Jill’s article.

Earlier this month, Dr Laura Favaro popped into her office at Bournemouth University, where she lectures in social sciences, and was told she had some personal post.

Her heart sank: nervous that the handwritten envelopes might contain hate mail.

“My first thought was ‘Oh no’ but as I began to read, I realised they were lovely cards of support,” says Laura, 42, who lives near the university with her partner and two young sons. “One woman said: ‘You’re brave and admirable and many women are outraged on your behalf.’

“The other sent me a donation for my legal case. I was so touched. I tweeted about them, saying I will put them under my pillow and hopefully they will help me sleep better.” Sleep is something Laura hasn’t had much of recently.

Dr Laura Favaro is taking her ex-employer – City University – to an Employment Tribunal for discrimination, harassment, victimisation, and whistleblowing detriment.

In September 2022, Favaro wrote an article for Times Higher Education that described the vilification and ostracism experienced by female academics who question gender identity ideology. After interviewing 50 gender studies academics about their views and experiences of the ‘gender wars’, Laura concluded that a culture of fear had taken hold across universities in England when it comes to this topic.

In her article, Dr Favaro recounts being told that “certain doors in academic may quietly close” if she proceeded with her research – which is exactly what happened. Colleagues quickly moved to denounce her research as an “attack piece on trans people” that had been “intended to cause harm”, while high-profile, well-remunerated Professors who had originally acted as participants in her study began announcing that they would be taking ‘action’ against her, in spite of the fact that she was a precariously employed migrant.

City University subsequently received complaints alleging that Dr Favaro had been unethical during her research. As Laura points out, these complaints were baseless: City investigated and could find no ethical wrongdoing on her part.

Despite this, Dr Favaro was still let go by City University. She further alleges that prior to her termination, her research project was suspended, all access to her research data was withdrawn, and she was vilified and ostracised by colleagues.

Like Professor Kathleen Stock, who was hounded from the University of Sussex, and Professor Jo Phoenix, who won her case against the Open University in January, Laura believes that her gender critical beliefs (that there are only two sexes — male and female) are at the root of why she was targeted.

“I know that if I did believe in gender identity theory [the belief that men and women can ‘identify’ into the opposite sex], my career in academia would be thriving,” she says. “But I don’t and so this is how they treat women like me.”

The Free Speech Union, which had been supporting Laura, introduced her to solicitor Peter Daly, who had helped Sex Matters founder Maya Forstater win her case after she lost her job with a think-tank for saying people could not change their biological sex.

With his help, Laura has regained access to part of her research data, and is preparing to take City to an Employment Tribunal on five counts, including the fact they failed to support her and victimised her because of her beliefs.

She has managed to raise £90,000 for her legal costs through crowdfunding but needs another £20,000. ‘The support means everything to me,’ she says.

The stress of the last year and a half has, at times, been unbearable.

“I’d vomit with anxiety and wake up in the middle of the night drenched with sweat,” she says. “I’d be sitting with my sons reading them a bedtime story and suddenly I’d feel tears streaming down my face and I’d be shaking. What I am most sad about is that I’ve lost so much precious time with my children.”

City denies there is antipathy towards people with gender critical beliefs. Laura believes otherwise.

“At one point all students and staff were called to ‘report directly to security’ if they saw stickers on campus that were ‘designed to undermine trans people and their rights,’” she says. “I asked what these so-called ‘hate stickers’ were and they included stickers which simply had the words: ‘Woman: Adult Human Female’ on them. Any student placing one of these stickers would be subjected to disciplinary procedures.

“So, my case is not just about me stopping the persecution of women who have well-founded concerns about gender identity theory. It is about recovering universities as spaces of open, respectful and evidence-based debate.”

In an interview with the Sunday Times’s Hadley Freeman last year, Dr Favaro admitted to being “terrified” about her tribunal case, but also determined to see it through: “The time has come to speak up, because I don’t want other women to go through this. Silence will not protect us.”

Worth reading in full.

You can find out more about Laura’s crowdfunder and show your support by clicking here.