Historical Conversion Therapy: Steering Group

In early 2021, a Steering Group was established by the University as a direct response to an individual publicly coming forward to the BBC to report the ‘conversion therapy’ they received in the mid-1970s at the University of Birmingham. 

The Group, chaired by Professor Sarah Beck, included staff and students from the School of Psychology, and representatives from the Guild of Students, and the Rainbow Network. Members of the group included Freya Watkins, Rory Devine, Ed Wilding, Sarah Beck, Sammy Li, Tom Syder, Jonathan Reinarz, and Rebecca Wynter.

The Steering Group decided that an investigation should be carried out in an effort to establish what exactly had happened at the University. In summer 2021, they appointed Dr Rebecca Wynter for three months to lead the research and write a full, public-facing report. As a result of Dr Wynter’s work and the advocacy of staff in Psychology and Professor Laura Green, Head of College for Life and Environmental Sciences, the then Vice Chancellor David Eastwood confirmed the project would continue for an additional year.

In 2022, the report and the consequent recommendations of the Steering Group were brought to fruition under Co-Chairs Professor Elaine Fulton and Dr Mo Moulton. On 8 June 2022, the report was released and the current Vice Chancellor, Adam Tickell, affirmed the University’s agreement to carry out the core recommendations.

A task force was then established by the University Executive Board, involving Pro-Vice Chancellor Robin Mason (International) and Deputy Pro-Vice Chancellor Jo Duberley (Equality, Diversity and Inclusion), to action the recommendations – these efforts are ongoing.