A Scottish law student who was investigated for saying ‘women have vaginas’ during an online seminar on transgender issues is suing her university for an alleged breach of the Equality Act, MailOnline can reveal.
Lisa Keogh, 29, was investigated by Abertay University in Dundee after classmates complained that she made ‘inappropriate comments’ during a seminar which ‘could be construed as discriminatory’.
The mother of two was hauled before a disciplinary panel after making her comments during a seminar on transgender issues.
But after a two-month probe, which took place while she underwent her final year exams this year, the university’s disciplinary board decided not to uphold the misconduct charge against her after finding there was no evidence that she had discriminated against any classmate.
In a series of tweets today, the mature student announced that she is now seeking compensation from Abertay University for the ‘stress caused at the most crucial part of my university career’.
MailOnline can also reveal that Miss Keogh’s legal team, MML Legal Dundee, believe that the university is in breach of the Equality Act 2010 by pursuing her for ‘expressing her gender critical beliefs’.
In a statement, 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 spokesman told MailOnline today: ‘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.’
Lisa Keogh, 29, said she has decided to take action against Abertay University in Dundee
In a series of tweets today, Miss Keogh announced that she is now seeking compensation from Abertay University for the ‘stress caused at the most crucial part of my university career’
Abertay University in Dundee has said it was ‘legally obliged to investigate all complaints’
The university previously said that it was ‘legally obliged to investigate all complaints’.
Miss Keogh’s lawyers 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 today: ‘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.’
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.’
Miss Keogh previously said she was the victim of a ‘modern day witchhunt’ and that she was ‘targeted because of her gender critical views’. She called the complaints ‘groundless’ and the process ‘needlessly cruel’.
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.
Professor Kathleen Stock is facing calls to quit because of her views on transgender rights
Student protesters at the University of Sussex this month to demand Ms Stock’s resignation
‘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.’
It comes as Professor Kathleen Stock, who teaches philosophy at Sussex University, has been left under siege by trans rights activists because she is sceptical of opening up women-only spaces such as prisons to trans people.
Last year, JK Rowling was accused of being ‘transphobic’ after insisting only women experience menstruation. She had challenged an article entitled: ‘Opinion: Creating a more equal post-COVID-19 world for people who menstruate.’
Taking issue with the phrasing, 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 this month, 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’.