Natasha Devon, a British writer, campaigner and pundit who speaks about mental health issues, body positivty, and gender in schools has received death and rape threats following a campaign in which she discussed the importance of gender neutral language. In an open letter on TES.com, Devon discusses the outrage she incited over her progressive and pro-LGBTQ stance.
Devon had previously been let go from her position as an education tsar after criticizing education policies pertaining to the testing regime, which she believes has a negative impact on the mental health of students. Her recent speech at the Girls’ School Association’s annual conference sought to impart upon educators the value of gender neutral language.
“The main thrust of my argument was this … In making sweeping assumptions about gender, sexuality and identity we can create a culture in which anyone who deviates from the established archetypes feel excluded from the community and therefore doesn’t have this need fulfilled," writes Devon.
But some on the far right were not only unwelcoming of Devon's positions, they were outright hostile: "I received death and rape threats, messages questioning my sanity, calling me a ‘f**king idiot’, trying to insult me through the prism of questioning my own gender, calling me fat and ugly, suggesting I should be burned as a witch and, perhaps most offensively, claiming that I am single-handedly responsible for the current poor mental health of British children,” she writes.
Devon has since forwarded the threats to police for investigation. She remains concerned about her safety: “I worry that, for the next few months, if my name happens to be mentioned in a pub, or an office, or school the next words spoken will be: ‘Isn’t she the one who says we aren’t allowed to say girls or boys any more? PC Gone Mad! Nothing wrong with being a girl/boy!’" she said. “That is how the media, for all the magnificent work it does to raise awareness of mental health, shuts down some of the complex conversations we need to have in order to better understand it.”
No charges have yet been pressed and no suspects have yet been named.
[Photo: Getty Images]