Symposium on Law and Contemporary Issues on “Sex in Law” Publishes Contested Paper

The newspaper Law and contemporary issues published its first issue of 2022, an interdisciplinary symposium on “Sex in Law”. Among the contributions to the symposium is a paper by philosopher Kathleen Stock, “The Importance of Referring to Human Gender in Language”. In this article, Stock argues that “the abandonment of orthodox biology-based understandings of ‘woman’, ‘man’, ‘girl’ and ‘boy’ deprives users of language of extremely valuable tools for analyzing and explaining the world. material and social. In the meantime, all supposed gains are partial and uncertain.” The inclusion of this article caused some of the journal’s student editors to resign, as noted in this article.

The comprehensive symposium features papers from a range of normative and disciplinary perspectives, addressing contemporary questions about how issues of sex, gender, and sexuality are and should be addressed in law. In addition to Stock, contributors include Edward Schiappa, Joshua D. Safer, Anne B. Goldstein, Richard Chused, Anthony Michael Kreis, Wickliffe Shreve, Joanna Harper, June Carbone, and Madeleine Pape.

As a result of the controversy, no student editor is listed in the journal’s header for this issue. Instead is the following statement:

In general, student members of the journal’s staff Law and contemporary issues (L&CP) do not select papers for symposium issues in its volumes. As L&CP is organized and functioning, issue proposals are approved by the journal’s faculty board and article selections are made by the special editors. The role of the student is usually to produce the issues once the articles have been finalized by the authors and special editors. In the case of this issue, 85-1: Sex in Law, no article has been read, edited or reviewed by L&CP student staff editors or board members acting in their official capacity as members of the journal. In the summer of 2021, eight 3L students resigned from the journal and the rest of the 3L members voted that student members not contribute to this symposium in an official capacity; these decisions were in response to the inclusion of Kathleen Stock’s essay and the faculty council’s rejection of the student executive council’s request to use a style guide on uniform language for the issue that members of the student executive council deemed it necessary to avoid harming the transgender community.

The foreword to the issue, by Professors Doriane Coleman and Kimberly Krawiec (who were the editors of this issue), also addresses the controversy. They write:

We want to end with an expression of gratitude to the students who helped edit this volume after a number of editors and journal members resigned from the board or refused to work on it, for reasons explained. in their statement on the homepage. This includes individual author research assistants, who performed work that would normally have been done by student council, as well as Duke Law students who volunteered their time without compensation or institutional credit to produce the rest. Of the latter, we particularly want to acknowledge Meredith Criner who acted as de facto editor even though she also did much of the below-the-line work normally reserved for junior student council members.

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