Amid growing backlash for firing an English teacher over a video on masculinity, Eton College has said that it is "not an issue of freedom of speech."
The school initially refused to comment since an appeals process is underway.
"The dismissal of Mr. Knowland was not an issue of freedom of speech," the college said in a statement emailed to The Epoch Times.
"The school was advised by specialist lawyers that the content in question was in breach of the Equalities Act and the Education (Independent Schools Standards) Regulations. There was simply no other choice than to ask for it to be taken down."
Eton says that they repeatedly asked Knowland to remove the video temporarily from his YouTube channel "pending further discussion" but that he refused.
The Patriarchy ParadoxKnowland has taught English for nine years at the £42,500-a-year boys school, which is a byword for privilege and traditional private education.
His video was based on a lecture entitled “The Patriarchy Paradox,” which he had prepared earlier this year, as part of a course to encourage critical thinking in older students.
Knowland, however, refused to remove the lecture from his personal YouTube channel.
The Provost of Eton (chairman of the governing body), Lord Waldegrave, responded to what he described as a "fake news" narrative that Knowland had been sacked for preparing the video lecture itself.
"It is alleged that he was sacked for having the temerity to articulate such views," Waldegrave wrote in a statement sent to The Epoch Times. "This is false."
Waldegrave said that Eton "prides itself on encouraging open-minded, independent, and critical thinking."
Knowland's personal video was, with the school's permission, "clearly identified with Eton," according to Waldegrave.
A Letter from PupilsKnowland said his intention was to present different views from “the current radical feminist orthodoxy”—but not to necessarily endorse them.
“In my lecture, I pointed out that, historically, masculine qualities like strength, courage, and tenacity have often been as beneficial to women as they have been to men,” he said according to the Telegraph.
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The Epoch Times cannot verify signatories are all as stated.
The authors said that the disciplinary action could not be separated from the content of the lecture.
"We struggle to identify where Mr. Knowland’s video steps out of the realms of academic debate and into genuinely discriminatory private opinion," the letter said. "The boys have concluded from watching the video that the problem cannot lie in the way he sets out the ideas, but in the ideas themselves."
The letter urged the school to be kind.
"The dismissal of Mr. Knowland—at least on the facts available to the boys—points to a heartless and merciless spirit at the top of the school," they wrote. "Mr. Knowland is loved by all who have encountered him. He is an obviously and thoroughly good man."