Academics at the University of Leicester have devised guidance to help museum and gallery bosses “advance trans inclusion”. They were assisted by Stonewall, Gendered Intelligence and other gender ideology charities and organisations. The work was paid for by taxpayers via funding from the Economic and Social Research Council, which is part of the ‘UK Research & Innovation’ (UKRI) quango.
Newspaper coverage of the report focused on the usual promotion of ideology and pseudoscience that we have come to expect from organisations right across our public sector, and which we seem powerless to challenge.
According to the Telegraph, for example, the guidance:
- states that museums should “stimulate positive explorations of gender” for children. (So the authors ‘want’ more kids to feel discombobulated in their bodies?)
- says that kids and adults “should be provided with access to the toilets and changing rooms of their choice”. (So the dignity, privacy, safety of both sexes should be ignored?)
- suggests using “gender-inclusive language in all communications”. (Why on earth do these lobby groups think they have a right to change how we have spoken for millenia?)
This is the usual ideological agenda that we now expect from such lobby groups – and which our entire public sector has become the mouthpiece for.
However, there is something different about the trans museum guidance which is useful and which points a way towards us digging ourselves out of the gridlock we have got into with respect to gender ideology. Public sector trans policies, pronouncements and edicts tend to provide little in the way of rationale. They simply declare into place an edifice of requirements at the same time as making clear that anyone who objects is transphobic.
Imagine if you went into work one day and saw this notice pinned on the wall: “Here is a new requirement and if you object to it you are hateful and your job is at risk.” That’s a closed loop brooking no dissent, and it is an accurate picture of the state we are in.
The trans museum guidance breaks open this closed loop. It describes in detail the legal basis on which it justifies the promotion of gender ideology. It presumably exposes the sort of conversations that go on inside the EDI wings of the HR departments that loom large, and ever larger, across our public sector. “Why are we doing this again?” “PSED, dear”.
As the trans museum guidance explains, the Equality Act 2010 contains a “Public Sector Equality Duty” (PSED) at section 149. This is how the guidance explains and interprets it:
It is the “duty to advance inclusion” that is doing so much of the work. It’s funny because these words are missing from Section 149.
Many people would argue that this section of the Equality Act is currently being over-interpreted by empire-building ideologically-motivated EDI departments. But is it really? Read key bits again:
Frankly, I am surprised that we are in as good shape as we are. With a classical liberal set of glasses on you can read this section as simply requiring us to take care that we set up level playing fields. But put on a pair of critical-theory specs and an interpretation in favour of activism, a “duty to advance inclusion” is not hard to see.
Here is how the trans museum guidance does it. Firstly it ramps up its application:
Compliance with the general equality duty is a legal obligation and it will require forward planning so that consideration is given to the most effective ways in which all protected characteristic groups can generally be included in any services or activities offered. (emphasis mine).
Then it switches it to being about environments, which sort of cover everything. Of course, with the usual threat.
This allows cultural organisations to be proactive in publicly promoting trans-inclusive environments. Organisations such as museums that are not trans-inclusive could be discriminating against individual staff and customers, and creating a trans-inclusive organisation (for example, by adopting trans-inclusive policies and guidance that cover harassment and bullying against trans people) does not conflict with equality duties to prevent discrimination against (or foster inclusiveness for) any other protected characteristic group.
However, compared to what is to come, this language is still relatively mild. The trans museum guidance then ramps up the Public Sector Equality Duty into permanent revolution. It must be all the time, with respect to everything.
Please read this below:
Gender ideology must permeate everything. It must be permanently visible. Nothing escapes – uniform, toilets, volunteers, kids, partner organisations, suppliers, culture, collections, displays, events, public programming, language. Language, language, language. You would not think we are a sexed species. You would not think that sex matters to women – and to men. You would not think that we do not have coerced speech or belief in country. You would not think that Maya Forstater won her case and that gender critical beliefs are protected in the workplace.
Please read this below. See the top circle. The revolution must be all pervasive:
Please read this below. See the top circle. Reality must be undermined.
Of course, it is all ludicrous. But it is real, happening, and causing immense damage. Gender ideology is being promoted right across our public institutions. Vulnerable people are being harmed, permanently. But it is not just a minority issue harming a few. We shouldn’t want museum staff not to assume the gender of our kids. All of us will be impacted as free speech continues to be eroded and false narratives promoted. Anyone who cares about public discourse being based in the exploration of truth should be concerned.
Campaigners have struggled to find a way to halt the juggernaut. We thought its exposure would crank politicians of all parties into action. We were wrong. A specific campaign calling for the removal of the Public Sector Equality Duty in the Equality Act would be a useful coalescing device to call for action.
And it would be the right thing to do. People in this country tend to back anti-discrimination laws but to be wary of affirmative action. The PSED has become ‘ideological affirmative action’. The PSED is being used to promote a juggernaut of critical social justice theories, the most pernicious being gender ideology. These narratives treat people as groups, not individuals; they assume all social interactions involve power relationships dependent on ‘intersectionalities’, they deny science and scientific categories, erode boundaries, suppress free speech, shun open debate and erode democracy.
At the same time, public sector EDI departments are ballooning and looking for more work. The longer it continues, the harder it will be to stop. Expect more policies, statements, flags, cupcakes, stairwells, badges and pledges. Soon the latter might not be voluntary.
The Public Sector Equality Duty within the Equality Act must be repealed. We need to mount a campaign to this effect. Too much harmful ideology is being promoted. Too many bossy edicts are crushing open discourse and the pursuit of truth. Let’s set everyone free.
Caroline ffiske is a Director of Conservatives for Women. Find her on X (Twitter).