Mother-of-two Lisa Keogh, 29, was investigated by Abertay University in Dundee after saying ‘women have vaginas’ during a class on transgender issues
A Scottish university which is being sued by a law student for dragging her through disciplinary after she said that ‘women have vaginas’ during a class on transgender issues plans to fight the legal action, MailOnline can reveal.
Mother-of-two Lisa Keogh, 29, was investigated by Abertay University in Dundee during the summer after classmates complained that she made ‘inappropriate’ and ‘discriminatory’ remarks about biological sex during an online seminar on gender politics.
She was cleared of the misconduct charges after the university’s disciplinary board found there was no evidence that she had discriminated against anyone during a two-month probe – which took place while she underwent her final year exams this year.
Last month, the mature student launched legal action against Abertay University, claiming that the institution broke the Equality Act 2010 by pursuing her for ‘expressing her gender critical beliefs’ and caused ‘stress at the most crucial part of my university career’.
MailOnline can now reveal that Abertay University has submitted a notice of intention to defend in a sheriff court, meaning the institution has 14 days to submit their defence. An Abertay University spokesman declined to comment.
Speaking to MailOnline today, Miss Keogh said the university’s actions had amounted to ‘a direct attack on my right to free speech’. She previously said she was the victim of a ‘modern day witch-hunt’ and that the complaints were ‘groundless’ and the process ‘needlessly cruel’.
‘We strongly believe that me expressing gender critical views in the circumstances which I did are protected under the Equality Act 2010,’ Miss Keogh said.
‘It was also a direct attack on my right to free speech.
‘We believe Abertay breached the Act and put me through a horrendous time as a consequence of that while I was sitting my final exams and submitting my final work. We are very optimistic that the Sheriff will side with me when the truth of this investigation comes to light.’
MailOnline has learned that Abertay University has submitted a notice of intention to defend in a sheriff court. The institution now has 14 days to submit their defence. Abertay University declined to comment
In a statement last month, she said: ‘I can confirm that my solicitors MML Legal Dundee have raised an action by me against Abertay University, Dundee’
Trans row controversies: How JK Rowling and university academics have become embroiled in transgender rights debate
Lisa Keogh has launched legal action against Abertay University for dragging her through disciplinary after she said that ‘women have vaginas’ in an online seminar on transgender issues.
It comes after Professor Kathleen Stock was forced to quit her position at the University of Sussex last month after student protesters launched a campaign of ‘bullying and harassment’ to oust her for saying that people cannot change their biological sex.
JK Rowling has been accused of being ‘transphobic’ after insisting only women experience menstruation. The Harry Potter author had taken issue with the phrasing of a headline for an article entitled: ‘Opinion: Creating a more equal post-COVID-19 world for people who menstruate’.
She copied a link to the article on Twitter and wrote: ‘People who menstruate. I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?’
Amid the backlash she later posted: ‘I know and love trans people, but erasing the concept of sex removes the ability of many to meaningfully discuss their lives. It isn’t hate to speak the truth.’
Last September, medical journal The Lancet was accused of using the phrase ‘bodies with vaginas’ in lieu of the word ‘female’, which later saw editor Richard Horton apologise for conveying the impression that ‘we have de-humanised and marginalised women’.
And in October, Exeter University’s Students’ Guild resisted calls for an anti-abortion society to be shut down, supporting its members’ rights to ‘freedom of speech’ and to operate without fear of ‘intolerance or discrimination’.
In a statement last month, she said: ‘I can confirm that my solicitors MML Legal Dundee have raised an action by me against Abertay University, Dundee.
‘As this matter is now in Court, I cannot discuss the merits of the case. However, I can confirm that I am seeking compensation from them for undertaking a disciplinary process against me for expressing certain gender critical beliefs, which my legal team believe was a breach of the Equality Act 2010 and an infringement of my ECHR rights of freedom of expression.’
An Abertay University spokesman said last month: ‘I can confirm the university has received a letter from Ms Keogh’s solicitor. We won’t be making any further comment at this time.’
Miss Keogh’s lawyers, MML Legal Dundee, are claiming that the disciplinary process was in breach of the Equality Act 2010, and that the university ‘directly discriminated’ against her ‘because of her gender critical beliefs’.
‘The pursuer’s gender critical beliefs are a protected characteristic within the meaning of sections 4 and 10 of the 2010 Act,’ the writ states.
‘The pursuer’s beliefs: are genuinely held; relate to a weighty and substantial aspect of human life and behaviour; are cogent, serious, cohesive, and important; and are worthy of respect in a democratic society.
‘Her beliefs amount to a philosophical belief within the meaning of section 10 of the 2010 Act. The defender, as the governing body of a Scottish University, must not discriminate against students, inter alia, by subjecting them to any other detriment.’
According to the legal documents, her legal team add that she has ‘suffered injured feelings, stress, anxiety, and sleeplessness’ as a result of these events, and that her GP prescribed her with medication to help with her symptoms.
Miss Keogh was formally charged with ‘making offensive comments and behaving in a disrespectful manner during class discussions’.
The charge also claimed she had ‘behaved in a disrespectful manner’, despite being ‘reminded about the university’s policy on conduct.’
However the board said that, after reviewing the recordings made available from the lesson, it had found ‘no evidence of discrimination’. It also found that the student had ‘not intentionally shouted in class’.
‘As a result, the board found there was insufficient evidence to support the allegations made against you on your behaviour in class and, therefore, decided to not uphold the charge of misconduct,’ the board added.
Miss Keogh tweeted last month: ‘After speaking with legal professionals, I have decided to take action against Abertay University for the stress caused at the most crucial part of my university career.
‘Action was initiated last week. I will be raising funds for this.
‘I would appreciate your support during this time. I hope that you will donate if you can and share widely. I will post the fundraising page when it has been finalised.’
The mother of two was hauled before a disciplinary panel after making her comments during a seminar on transgender issues
She added: ‘I hope that at the end of this, students won’t be scared to voice opinions through fear of action being taken against them.’
The university previously said it was ‘legally obliged to investigate all complaints’.
Speaking about what caused the complaint, she told the Daily Mail in May: ‘I was asked to define what a woman was and I said someone with a vagina. A biological fact, I thought – and still think – but apparently it is now unacceptable to say it.
‘The whole thing descended into a row. It became quite toxic. Because I had dared to question anything about transgender rights, a target was on my back.’
Speaking after her graduation in July, she said the moment was ‘bittersweet’ as she was ‘still upset’ with the university.
Miss Keogh said at the time: ‘I went through two months of torture and it caused me a lot of mental anguish. I’m still upset with the university and the fact I had to deal with this when I was trying to focus on my degree.
‘It is such a big achievement for me and there are some silver linings and positives to take from it. I’m now focused on finding work and hoping to put this behind me.’