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Bigoted psychologists hound colleague who questioned social justice agenda


A PSYCHOLOGIST is being ostracised by her own profession for simply raising questions about the potential harms of social justice ideology being adopted uncritically. Having been ‘cancelled’ by the British Psychological Society, Dr Kirsty Miller now faces an assault from teachers in Dundee and across Scotland who are threatening her ability to work. Her case is being supported by James Essess, co-founder of Thoughtful Therapists, a campaign group aimed at protecting open-ended ethical and effective therapy.

In 2020 Dr Miller had a letter published by the British Psychological Society which explained her concerns. She was then labelled a bigot and a racist. Demonstrating the dangers of social justice activism to academic freedom, the editor of the society’s journal The Psychologist  not only removed the letter from the website but issued an apology to anyone who had been ‘harmed’ by the letter, which you can still see here. 

Unsurprisingly, none of Dr Miller’s points was addressed, and the only responses she received revolved around name-calling and misrepresentation. As she wrote, ‘My worries about the impact of social justice on the field were demonstrated beautifully: advocates could, or would, not engage with the ideas – they refused to acknowledge them, in favour of misrepresentation and performative outrage.’

This year, after simply promoting a Scottish Union for Education conference (which was raising questions about indoctrination in schools) to a group of psychology teachers, Dr Miller was again denounced; she was prevented from responding to allegations and was charged with being a danger to her students. One complainant argued: ‘It is both alarming and yet deeply upsetting that she is currently working at Dundee and Angus College, and in a position to use her voice to try to push some of these beliefs on other lecturers in the field,’ showing that even questioning views is taken to be a danger to other academics. As a result, Dr Miller now faces ostracism by her own colleagues.

One of the particular concerns raised by Dr Miller is that psychologists in Scotland have adopted a dogmatic approach to the question of transgender children, in particular their insistence on affirming a child’s gender beliefs. This is despite the fact that, following recent scientific evidence on this matter, the UK Council for Psychotherapy has withdrawn from the ‘Memorandum of Understanding on Conversion Therapy in the UK’, a document forcing therapists to affirm children to transition.

Questions about the dangers of affirming the transgender identity of children are growing. In England puberty blockers have been banned due to clinical concerns about their use by children. Research has also indicated that many children presenting as transgender have wider difficulties, including autism, and where children are not simply affirmed we find that most of these children no longer wish to transition in later life and often turn out to be gay. 

But in Scotland, this potentially harmful approach not only continues, but anyone who even raises a question about it is attacked, labelled a bigot, and hounded out of the profession.

Noting the potential harm of this dogmatic approach to both the profession and to patients, Dr Miller asks:

‘How, I wondered, could such closed-minded, judgemental individuals cope with the complex relationships and interactions they would encounter when working with patients? How could they treat them appropriately if they refuse to even countenance the existence of approaches or beliefs that aren’t their own? How could they support distressed patients who may be relaying genuinely distressing stories if they can’t even cope with being exposed to different perspectives? Similar questions could be raised about how it would be possible for them to educate with this mindset. Will they ‘cancel’ a student who asks a question they don’t like? Will they teach only their own pet theories and beliefs? Will they punish students who question them?’ 

Dr Miller is deeply concerned that social justice ideologues risk harming their patients, where ‘trainees and newly qualified clinicians [are educated to blame] an individual’s problems on their group membership, society or the government, rather than offering appropriate evidence-based, individualised treatment’. Additionally, she notes that there are growing reports of cases where men who seek help ‘experience barriers to, or unsympathetic, treatment’.

Rather than using science and reason and treating each individual case on its merits, Dr Miller believes, the psychological professions in Scotland, helped by the Scottish government’s preoccupation with ‘social justice’, have become a threat to academic freedom and worse still, a potential danger to their own clients.

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Dr Stuart Waiton
Dr Stuart Waiton
Dr Stuart Waiton is chair of the Scottish Union for Education and senior lecturer in sociology and criminology at Abertay University, Dundee.

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