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News, Queensland

Call for ‘transphobic’ University of Queensland Dean to apologise or go

A Brisbane activist has called for an academic leader at The University of Queensland to be held professionally accountable for “transphobic” conduct.

Dean of Law Professor Patrick Parkinson made headlines earlier this year after comparing the rise young trans people seeking care to the spread of COVID-19 and calling for “authorities” to investigate the “epidemic”.

Parkinson has previously been criticised for speaking out against same-sex parents and arguing against the legitimacy of trans and non-binary gender identities.

He is associated with notoriously anti-LGBTIQ religious organisations the Australian Christian Lobby and Freedom for Faith.

Following Parkinson’s latest inflammatory comments against trans people, LGBTIQ advocate Johnny Valkyrie has launched an online petition calling for the university leader to either stop his “discriminatory, vilifying” behaviour or be removed from his role.

Valkyrie said that Parkinson has advocated against criminalising anti-LGBTIQ ‘conversion’ practices because he wants ‘changing’ trans people to remain legal.

“The School of Law should not be figureheaded by an individual who does not uphold discrimination, vilification, and human rights protections,” the petition reads.

“Further, it is highly unprofessional to breach The University of Queensland’s official policy on LGBTQIA+ people, especially when transgender and gender diverse people work and study at the institution.”

The University of Queensland LGBTIAQ+ inclusion plan states that the institution is “committed to developing and maintaining a safe, positive, and inclusive environment for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, asexual, and queer/questioning (LGBTIAQ+) people that is free from discrimination, harassment, and bullying”.

David Lavell, Associate Director of the university’s Integrity & Investigations Unit, said that Parkinson “has made it clear that his comments were made in a personal capacity [and] are therefore not those of The University of Queensland”.

“Secondly, Professor Parkinson has expertise in the field of child protection and family law,” said Lavell.

“He is therefore, based on the principles of academic freedom, able to participate in public debates in these areas.

“It is also open for him to participate, in a personal capacity, in public debates about political and social issues.”

Valkyrie called the university’s response “unacceptable”, saying that Parkinson’s personal “transphobic commentary” is inextricable from his university role.

He said that he found “outrageous” the university’s defence of Parkinson under the academic freedom policy.

Valkyrie called for Parkinson to be made professionally accountable for his repeated “misconduct”.

The petition calling for Parkinson to apologise to the trans community and for The University of Queensland to condemn his comments has gathered almost 500 signatures. 

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