by Melanie Newman & Julie Bindel
Tuesday, 24
August 2021
Behind the news
11:21

Social workers risk everything for sharing their views

Rachel Mead has been suspended pending investigation on highly dubious grounds
by Melanie Newman & Julie Bindel
SWE examiners issued Mead with a warning without referring her to a full public hearing. Credit: Getty

In the latest of a long line of stories regarding institutional capture by the extreme transgender ideology, a social worker has been sanctioned by her regulator for Facebook posts criticising some aspects of the transgender rights movement and signing a petition.

Social Work England (SWE), the regulatory body for social workers, found Rachel Mead’s “fitness to practice was impaired by way of misconduct”. The body argued that her actions had the potential to undermine public confidence in social workers even though there was no evidence her actual work had been affected.

SWE examiners issued Mead with a warning without referring her to a full public hearing.

After a member of the public complained about her social media use, SWE decided Mead had made some 70 posts on Facebook that were “discriminatory in nature”. These included sharing “fake news that a convicted child murderer was seeking gender reassignment” and supporting “a petition to stop a charity supporting gender-diverse children and young people”.

Mead also shared a post that said: “Boys that identify as girls go to Girl Guides… Girls that identify as boys go to Boy Scouts… Men that identify as paedophiles go to either.” According to the examiners, this post conflated “being transgender with being a paedophile”. In her defence, Mead said she had not fully read or analysed the content of the posts before sharing them and apologised to the regulator.

The social worker’s manager gave evidence that she had not practiced in a discriminatory way. SWE accepted that “no evidence has been offered that would suggest that the social worker acted in a transphobic manner whilst at work”.

But arguing that Mead’s fitness to practice was impaired, SWE’s case examiners found that “not only those from the transgender community, but others, would have concerns about the social worker’s ability to act in an anti-oppressive manner which values the diverse lived experience of others.” Mead was given a one-year warning and is currently suspended pending investigation by her employer.

Susan Hawkes, a senior lecturer in social work at the University of Wolverhampton, said the decision had enormous implications for social workers’ free speech. She questioned whether the same decision would have been reached had the case gone to a full hearing: “A social worker is not a politically restricted post. The judgement appears to suggest that social workers may not express gender-critical views or sign petitions.”

The SWE decision was made after the Employment Appeal Tribunal tribunal held in the Maya Forstater case that workers must not be discriminated against on the basis of their “gender critical” beliefs.

Hawkes said SWE had apparently failed to take into account the Forstater and others judgements and had “decided the posts are offensive on the basis of a single complaint.”

As to whether this SWE decision will reassure social workers who have concerns about issues surrounding gender identity is unlikely. The fear of being accused of transphobia is strong and workers — in most professions — would prefer to simply keep their heads down. But as the case of Forstater shows, the tide is slowly turning. Hopefully, the same will apply to Mead.

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  • ““What’s good for the goose, is good for the gander””

    Sailing a bit close to the wind there, it is now “What is good for one goose is good for another goose’.

  • Even you you are not likely to post anything contentious, it would be great to join. Only £40pa and they are doing us all a service.

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