‘Gender-critical’ student loses bid to sue uni for investigating her anti-trans comments
A gender-critical law student who sued her university after being investigated for anti-trans comments has had her case dismissed.
Lisa Keogh brought legal action against Abertay University in Dundee, Scotland after she claimed she was targeted by the university because of her gender-critical views, including her belief that only women are born with vaginas.
Her legal team argued before Dundee Sheriff Court that Keogh’s beliefs were protected by the Equality Act, and that the university’s investigation into a complaint against Keogh breached her human rights.
However, the court dismissed Keogh’s case, saying the university was “entitled to take steps to investigate complaints” against the student and that ultimately the complaint against Keogh was not upheld.
As such, sheriff Gregor Murray said the university “could not be guilty of discrimination simply because it did so”.
“Following investigation in this case, the complaint against the pursuer [Keogh] was not upheld,” Murray wrote. “She did not plead that the defender behaved dishonestly or unreasonably by following its complaints process.”
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Keogh wrote on Twitter that she is “very disappointed with this result” and is considering an appeal.
A complaint alleged Keogh made ‘multiple transphobic and sexist remarks’ while discussing her gender-critical views.
The legal action followed an investigation carried out by Abertay University into Keogh while she was in her final year for a law degree.
Keogh said she was reported by classmates when she aired her gender-critical beliefs, including that a “woman is someone that’s born with a vagina” and that trans women are physically stronger than cisgender women – during a debate on a trans woman participating in mixed martial arts fighting.
She claimed she wasn’t being “mean, transphobic or offensive” when she shared her comments.
The court heard the university received a complaint in 2021 about Keogh’s behaviour “during a seminar on 15 March and on other occasions” during two courses on gender, feminism and the law and on human rights.
The complaint alleged Keogh made “inappropriate contributions in module discussions, perceived to be both hateful as well as discriminatory by many students”, including making “multiple transphobic and sexist remarks”.
It claimed Keogh “referred to women as the weaker sex” and “repeatedly referred to trans women as men”. She allegedly also stated that “all (who she considered to be) women be the same regardless of race” while discussing critical race theory and asserted that “racism isn’t a real thing”.
The complaint described how Keogh “became hostile and aggressive” during the seminar on 15 March during a discussions of students’ lived experiences of “things like sexual assault and rape, as well as having a conversation as to what existence in public looks like to us as individuals”.
The document claimed Keogh “shouted at (her tutor) and referred to (her classmates) ‘as nothing more than man hating feminists’”.
After a formal, two-month long investigation, she received a letter from the chair of the student disciplinary board in June 2021 informing her the complaints were dismissed, Metro.co.uk reported.
Koegh claimed she was “targeted” because of her “gender-critical views” in what she described as a “modern day witch-hunt” which came at “such a critical time in [her] university career”.
The Dundee Sheriff Court noted Keogh’s claims she “suffered injured feelings, stress, anxiety and sleeplessness” after being subjected to “disciplinary proceedings” and to a “hearing before the student disciplinary board” were ultimately “irrelevant”.
“First, those developments could not have subjected the pursuer to detriment… the code obliged the defender to investigate the complaint,” Murray wrote.
“The number, nature and timing of the allegations, and the involvement of at least three final year students who were about to sit examinations, all placed the university in exactly the type of ‘tricky territory’ that entitled it to investigate immediately.”
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