Pupils at Eton College. (Graeme Robertson/Getty)
Eton College has upheld its headmaster’s decision to fire a teacher who wrote a sexist and anti-trans lecture, claiming aggression and toxic masculinity are a “biological reality” for men.
In November, Eton College English teacher Will Knowland was fired for “persistently” refusing to remove a YouTube video of an anti-trans, sexist lecture he had written titled “The Patriarchy Paradox”.
The lecture was recorded for a “perspectives course” taken by Eton students, and although it was uploaded online, it was not actually taught to them before school leadership caught on.
In it, Knowland claimed that patriarchy “partly results from women’s choices because it benefits them” and that “saying smash the patriarchy amounts to saying smash human nature and biological reality”.
He insisted that women should not be allowed to fight in wars and claimed that women are not capable of “mining, oil extraction, heavy and chemical industry, long-distance transportation, most forms of construction, many kinds of agriculture such as forestry and the herding of large domestic animals and deep sea fishing”.
Even if sperm were not needed for reproduction, Knowland said, in a world without men women would “likely revert to a primitive life based on horticulture, dwelling in huts and suffering from a permanent shortage of animal protein… their life expectancy would be reduced to less that 40 years”.
He also referred to trans women as “men” in the lecture, and at one point, while showing a slide with a photo of a person dressed as a lizard, he said: “Some philosophers have pointed out that, logically, considerations that support transgenderism would also support, for example, trans-speciesism.”
Showing a drawing of a non-binary superhero, he added: “Nobody wants to watch films about characters like this.”
According to the BBC, Eton College said it made a “reasonable request” for Knowland to remove the video from his YouTube channel, “but despite multiple requests and then instructions he persistently refused to do so”.
The school added: “We are always saddened to see matters reach such an outcome but the school had no choice in the face of clear legal advice and the persistent refusal to remove the content.”
An internal disciplinary process at Eton College, an elite boarding school which charges more than £40,000 a year in fees, found that Knowland was guilty of gross misconduct. Now, at an appeal hearing, the decision to fire the teacher has been upheld.
In a letter to the “Eton community”, Knowland claimed that he had “made a stand for my freedom to express information but also, and more importantly, for the boys’ freedom to receive it”.
Knowland has raised more than £60,000 to fight his dismissal at an employment tribunal.