Abertay Uni law student faces disciplinary action over ‘offensive’ gender comments during online class

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By Thomas Connelly on

Lisa Keogh says she provided ‘evidence’ to support her views ‘because it’s what we do as law students’

Image credit: Wikicommons/Dr V White

A law student is being investigated by her university after defining a woman as “someone with a vagina” during a seminar.

Lisa Keogh, 29, made national headlines when it emerged that she had been reported by classmates for making “offensive” and “discriminatory” comments during an online class on gender and feminism.

The Abertay University final year student is now reportedly facing disciplinary action and could have her degree withheld, after fellow law students took offence at her comments, including saying “the difference in physical strength of men versus women is a fact”.

“If that [degree withheld] happens, all my hard work will have been for nothing,” Keogh told the Mail Online. “I can’t even believe I am in this position. I have kept my head down for four years.”

Offering her account of what happened during the seminar, the Dundee-based undergrad said she was asked to define what a woman was and responded — “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,” she told the newspaper.

She continued: “I offered up as evidence — because it’s what we do as law students — my observation that I wasn’t physically as strong as the men. There were things I couldn’t lift. A woman’s centre of gravity is in a different place.”

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But the university appears to have a slightly different take on the situation.

“Under normal circumstances, the university does not comment on student disciplinary cases, however it has become necessary to correct inaccurate claims and reporting,” a spokesperson said. “To be clear, all Abertay students are free to express their views on campus, as long as this is not done in an intolerant or abusive way which would breach our Code of Student Discipline.”

The spokesperson continued: “Press reporting and social media commentary around this case has centred around gender issues and statements such as ‘women have vaginas’ and ‘men have penises’, which are lawful statements and would categorically not lead to any university misconduct investigation, if expressed on campus in a reasonable manner.”

The university stressed its code of conduct does not “police freedom of speech or the nature of views put forward during classroom discussion or debate”, but rather provides a “framework within which disruptive, aggressive or abusive behaviour that makes fair and robust debate or classroom learning impossible can be identified and stopped”.

The spokesperson added: “Scottish universities are required by law to investigate all complaints, whether by students, staff or members of the public.”

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