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Tuesday, June 28, 2022

OxMatch criticised for ‘homophobic’ question

Matt Schaffel reports on the controversy surrounding OxMatch’s questionnaire.

OxMatch has received criticism for a ‘homophobic’ question used in its matchmaking form. The form asked users to rate on a scale of one to five the question “I would be ok if my children were gay”. This has led to condemnation of the service by some students and student groups.

Alison Hall, a student at the University, told Cherwell: “The question OxMatch included on their survey completely trivialises the threat of familial rejection faced by many LGBTQ+ individuals, not to mention the fact that it is completely out of place and inappropriate for an informal personality quiz as a component for an online dating service. OxMatch’s response was also  deeply insulting, as it came across as an affirmation that their supposed expertise on collecting data trumps people’s lived experience of homophobia and disappointment at the inclusion of such a question.”

Oxford University LGBTQ society told Cherwell: “We have recently been made aware of the inclusion of an inappropriate and upsetting question in the latest OxMatch Questionnaire. We have made contact with the creators of OxMatch urging them to remove this question, and in the meantime wish to extend our welfare support to those who have been adversely impacted by this issue. 

 “The OULGBTQ+ Society Welfare Officers, Fran (she/her) at [email protected] or Lewis (they/them) at [email protected], are both Peer Support trained and available to listen. There is also a Welfare Brunch tomorrow morning at the Jolly Farmers, 10am-12pm, where in person support will be available (and also in the form of baked goods!) 

“Alternatively, if you feel more comfortable you can contact the Switchboard LGBTQ+ helpline here https://switchboard.lgbt/ for confidential support from trained LGBTQ+ volunteers between 10am-10pm.”

In the past, OxMatch has also faced backlash for violating GDPR rules alongside their own privacy policy. Students recieved promotional emails from the service, including advertising from services such as MyTutor, which they had not signed up to. 

Regarding the criticism, a spokesperson for OxMatch said to Cherwell: “The specific question was put in due to previous complaints about individuals matching with those holding homophobic views. The question was designed to filter out homophobic individuals. We have not received a single complaint about this question despite thousands of students doing the survey. The same question was used in other non-affiliated surveys that ran in Oxford and elsewhere before without complaints.”

“We have always sought to make OxMatch as inclusive as possible and welcome any suggestions about how to do that.”

Image Credit: Jill Cushen

 

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