SRP Open Letter Supporting Academic Freedom

We, the Society for Research on Psychopathology (SRP) Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Committee, support and echo statements released by the American Psychological Association, the American Association of University Professors, and others in support of academic freedom in higher education. We are disturbed by the trend in several US states (e.g., Florida, Ohio, Texas) in adopting legislation that restricts teaching and scholarship, especially on topics related to EDI (e.g., critical race theory, LGBTQ+ issues), in a manner that is clearly motivated by political agendas. Such actions, including prohibitions on teaching about structural racism, gender, and sexuality, removing tenure, and dissolving educator unions, compromise our collective ability to carry out high quality, comprehensive teaching, training, service, and research missions. We also note parallel efforts in many of the same states that seek to erode the rights of individuals belonging to minoritized groups, including LGBTQ+ communities.

These developments are an affront to the ethics, values, and knowledge-base of SRP. They contradict empirical data and consensus best practices that guide our approach to clinical training, education, and research in psychopathology. As stated in our SRP Solidarity and Action statement: “Mental health professionals have long understood that structural racism and inequities are highly detrimental to mental health and well-being.” This applies both to the communities we serve as healthcare providers, to the students/trainees we educate, and to our members as research professionals in the academy. There is an abundance of empirical evidence that, in general, increasing knowledge improves health and educational outcomes, and EDI issues related to racial, ethnic, sexual and gender, and other minoritized groups are no exception. A commitment to EDI must be allowed to inform our research, our clinical practice and training, and our teaching without the threat of partisan government censorship or loss of employment.

In light of changing legislation across the US designed to attack academic freedom, we as a research society are committed to actionable items in support of our stance against it (e.g., selecting meeting locations in states without legislation that is hostile toward academic freedom).

We welcome the dissemination of this statement to other organizations that are likewise committed to academic freedom and EDI values.