Support Lecturers and Respect Students

by Cathy Boardman

Support Lecturers and Respect Students

by Cathy Boardman
Cathy Boardman
Case Owner
I am taking BIMM Ltd to tribunal. I have been bullied, victimised and discriminated against, and punished for doing my job; caring about students and encouraging critical thought.
on 13th August 2022
pledged of £27,000 stretch target from 883 pledges
Cathy Boardman
Case Owner
I am taking BIMM Ltd to tribunal. I have been bullied, victimised and discriminated against, and punished for doing my job; caring about students and encouraging critical thought.

Latest: Sept. 21, 2023


Unlike most crowd funder   updates, this one is asking you NOT to make any further donations, but DO watch this space for more information.

Thank you for your continued support. Please expect to …

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I am taking private HE institute BIMM Ltd to tribunal for unfair dismissal and discrimination

Essentially, I have been fired for doing my job, and for doing what management asked (not discussing trans issues in lectures). Having a focus on women in a lecture on sex and gender was deemed trans exclusionary and sparked a campaign against me by a small cohort of students. 

I have also twice raised issues of sexism to staff; once around popular culture, once about a member of staff and a safeguarding concern.

Who even is this woman?

I am a woman, a mother, and a feminist, and until recently I taught cultural studies to music students. I care deeply about women’s rights, and believe that we cannot fight for our sex based rights if we cannot acknowledge that biological sex exists. This view is protected in law.

I don't think people should  be constrained by gendered expectations. Girls can play football (go Lionesses!), boys can play with dolls. I also empathise with those who feel that they don't fit in with society’s restrictive gender rules, as this is something I experience and would have likely identified as non-binary if I were a teenager today.

I am now 43 years old, a lesbian, proudly female, and the mother of beautiful sons (I am the only one who likes football). 

OK, what did she do?

The job of a cultural studies lecturer is to encourage students to think. We present them with ideas, theories, and try to equip them with the skills to challenge these theories in an academically sound way. We ask them to critically evaluate what we loftily term ‘cultural texts’ (mainly music in this case, but also social media phenomena, hairstyles, fashion, mainstream media, etc.) in light of these theories, and - crucially - to create their own arguments, challenge these from various perspectives to form their own ideas, standpoints, and opinions. So far so standard academic practice right?

It is also important to define the terms we use. To this end I define the terms ‘sex’ and ‘gender’. I state that sex is biological, it is immutable, and that gender is the set of expectations associated with each sex (Harvard referenced of course). These expectations and norms change through time and place. I state this for clarity, as the words are often used interchangeably. I remind students throughout the year that any theoretical or potentially ambiguous terms they use in their essays should be clearly defined, and used consistently.

This had me branded transphobic. Students trawled through my Facebook, looking for fuel for the fire, and found a post in which I had said that I did not think it was fair that a biological male could compete in women’s weightlifting, but that women of colour were not allowed to use swimming caps designed for Afro hair. I did not call Hubbard a man, but a ‘biological male’, which is accurate.

Management had asked me to not discuss transgender issues with students, which I had not. In fact, it was not talking about this, but focussing on women, that led to the student campaign. Both the course leader and Principal said that our students were not intellectually equipped to deal with gender issues critically. I find that insulting to the students. Crowdfunders for students’ double mastectomies are endorsed by BIMM, yet those in charge do not believe that they are critically equipped to consider whether this is a good idea. Where is the duty of care, particularly as more and more detransitioners are coming forward, angry at having been let down by adults who should have been watching out for them?

Why is this important? I believe students should be able to think, and that limiting discussion is limiting them. Blocking critical thought is anti-education and a disservice to young people.

Another part of cultural studies is to pose questions. Towards the end of a session on sex and gender, the week after a lecture on race and racism, I asked students to consider blackface and drag. Why was one deemed as acceptable and one very much not? Students were invited to consider this, and other topics raised in the lecture, to discuss in seminars. There was not a great deal of interest, but some thought drag was sexist, one trans student said that drag was seen as transphobic, most did not have strong opinions either way. At the time I had not made my own mind up about it.

This, along with saying in the staff room a year later that I found drag sexist (not proselytising, I was asked about a drag show), was presented to me as part of my ‘perceived trans-exclusionary views’, when the Principal told me about the campaign in which a small group of students was ‘out to get’ me. He brought up the case of Kathleen Stock, who had suffered years of bullying and harassment, including death and rape threats. He stated clearly that if that happened to me, he and the organisation would not support me.

He refused to discuss what I had said, or explain why it was seen as trans exclusionary. The students waging the campaign were invited to talk to me so that I could hear their side, as was the staff member who complained. Nobody did, so I was in the Kafka-esque position of being told I had done something wrong and had to change, but with a refusal to tell me what or why.

Anything else?

Sadly yes. A student came to me who felt she could not access student support as the male member of staff allocated to support her was sharing naked videos and photos of himself on social media where he is linked to students. I made the deputy safeguarding lead aware of this, as I felt it was the right thing to do. I have been sacked, the student has been expelled. As far as I am aware, the man is still uploading sexual images, and still in post.

I do not have union support so have no choice but to crowdfund to pay my legal fees. BIMM’s treatment of me contravenes their own policies on bullying, harassment and victimisation, as well as academic freedom, freedom of speech and my protected beliefs under the Equality Act 2010.   

Please support me to show that our students deserve better and so do our teaching professionals.  

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Update 10

Cathy Boardman

Sept. 21, 2023


Unlike most crowd funder   updates, this one is asking you NOT to make any further donations, but DO watch this space for more information.

Thank you for your continued support. Please expect to hear more in the next few days. 

Update 9

Cathy Boardman

Sept. 20, 2023

Final Announcement!

I am pleased to announce that I have reached an agreement with my previous employer :

Cathy Boardman and BIMM University have reached agreement in respect of Ms Boardman’s on-going employment tribunal claims. Whilst BIMM makes no admission on liability it does recognise the stress and upset felt by Ms Boardman due to the events leading up to the termination of her employment. BIMM understands that Ms Boardman undertook her teaching at the University in a way she considered to be in the best interests of the institution. BIMM recognises that Ms Boardman holds legally protected beliefs in the immutability of sex. BIMM strives to ensure that all protected characteristics are respected in accordance with the provisions of the Equality Act 2010. BIMM is a committed equal opportunities employer and will take into consideration the issues raised by Ms Boardman as part of her Tribunal claim. BIMM wishes Ms Boardman well for the future.

I wish to thank my solicitor Liz McGlode of Didlaw, and barrister Naomi Cunningham, who have guided me through this process. I am also incredibly grateful to every single person who has supported my crowdfunder, through sharing my case and / or donating. There are many  cases which I believe are similar to mine, and thankfully it is increasingly being recognised in law that sex matters, and that employees have a right to express this. I am glad that BIMM have asserted a commitment to respecting and supporting staff who hold these legally protected views.

Sex matters particularly to woman and girls who have survived male sexual violence and need the safety of female-only services to recover. As such, any money left in this pot will go to Sarah Summers; you can read about her case here. It is one I am very passionate about, and I have no doubt that anyone who supported me would support her.

Thanks again & solidarity always,


Update 8

Cathy Boardman

April 26, 2023

Update on mediation

Hi everyone, 


I wanted to give an update on where the legal case is up to. 


The parties met earlier this month for a judicial mediation. This is a settlement negotiation facilitated by an employment judge acting as a mediator - talking to the parties about their priorities and trying to help them to reach a resolution they can both live with. 


My case is listed for hearing over 8 days in July 2024. That will cost a lot of money and work for everyone involved, so it is in everyone’s interests if we can agree to settle the case. 


I was represented at the mediation by my barrister Naomi Cunningham, and the preparatory work has been done by my Solicitor Elizabeth McGlone. This has been made possible by your incredible generosity, and I am more grateful than I can say to every single person who has donated to my Crowd Justice fund. 


If an agreement is reached, and the fund retains a surplus, it will be put towards a similar case.  As all has been quiet, it is looking very likely that we will be going full steam ahead to a full hearing next July, and you will be hearing much more from me for another year and a half!

I will update either way when I have news.

In gratitude and solidarity,



Update 7

Cathy Boardman

Feb. 6, 2023


You may or may not have heard that a proposed fundraising event for my case was postponed.

You are more likely to have heard that it was cancelled than that it was happening, as it was  intended to be a relatively small affair. The venue had been hired privately, as a female only party. Female bar staff had been agreed by the venue, and word was spread to supportive women by word of mouth, message groups and a couple of local feminist and / or lesbian Facebook groups. 

But word got out that it was women only and the by-now predictable complaints came in.

I remain saddened, and frankly appalled, at the behaviour of anti-feminist activists, especially when led by women, but this is where we are.

However, after communication with the venue, we will be back for a date in future. Sadly we are back to having to do this without letting anyone know the venue in advance for our own safety. 

Update 6

Cathy Boardman

Nov. 18, 2022

Preliminary hearing

Hi again

I haven’t updated for a while while I’ve been getting ready for the preliminary hearing which is on Monday (21st November).

Not much happens at a preliminary hearing. It is mainly a matter of laying down the fundamentals of the case, but it will include setting a date for the main hearing, so I will update again very soon.

In the meantime, an article was published in Music Teacher magazine this month which you can read here.

Once again, thank you so much for the support. It has really helped me get through these past months emotionally to know that people care, as well as making the legal process possible.



Update 5

Cathy Boardman

Oct. 15, 2022

Podcast with Julie Bindel

Good morning!

I haven’t updated for a while because … well, there hasn’t been much to update on!

We are getting ready for the preliminary hearing next month, and will update about that.

Things in the wider world have been interesting, with the shocking-but-sadly-not-surprising news about Mermaids etc. 

Before that came to light, I had a chat with the indomitable Julie Bindel for her podcast, which came out this morning.

Update 4

Cathy Boardman

Sept. 8, 2022


Ey up everyone. 

I just wanted to give a quick update. As well as the MoS article, I was on GB News last week. The interview is available to watch here if you didn't see it or would like to watch it again or share it. Probably unsurprisingly, I have mixed feelings about both of these, but I am in a position where I need to carry on trying to be heard. 

Hopefully there will be something much more nuanced coming out very soon so watch this space!

The last few weeks have been hard, and I have felt physically and emotionally drained, but reading through the supportive comments from donors is (I was going to say humbling, but quite frankly it's) mind boggling. So thank you again. 

Please continue to share with anyone who might be interested, and more importantly, keep having conversations with people day to day.

They want us to shut up but we won't! 

Solidarity always, 


Update 3

Cathy Boardman

Aug. 26, 2022

Enormous thanks. We are going big!

Ey up one and all. 

I've been reading through the comments from donors and would be lying if I claimed you haven't brought a tear to my eye! 

No doubt many of you have seen the press coverage as it stands so far. There have been pieces in the Times , Telegraph, Mail on Sunday and Spiked, and I am having more offers come in. There are other articles I have just seen, although I do want to point out that these have not all come from me directly, and that I'm not always keen on everything they say (or the headlines). Free speech though, eh?!

Ultimately though, this has led to an amount of money in donations that makes me feel confident that together we can win this! 

Lots of people seem to have a similar reaction, roughly 'this is bonkers', and there are more of us each day pointing out that the emperor is, in fact, naked. 

A few comments from Crowd Justice donors ask me to get in touch, or are people I feel I'd like to get in touch with, but I can't. Crowd Justice is chosen by solicitors for its safety; this means that they get all the money (not a penny to me personally), but also I do not have access to anybody's details other than the first name, if you chose to display it. 

If you do want to get in touch, you can get hold of me through twitter @grittynorthern

And my word, it is taking some grit, but us northerners have that in spades. 

Solidarity always.

Update 2

Cathy Boardman

Aug. 16, 2022

I've got a date!

No, not that kind of date! I have a date for the preliminary hearing which will be in November. 

This is where a judge will lay out the facts and claims of the case, and we will then start to prepare for the main hearing, for which it could be a long wait. We are at the mercy of the courts here. 

I'm not going to lie. Although I would always regret not standing up for what I believe is right, for me and everyone else, meaning giving up is not an option, this is a more than a teensy bit terrifying. And, of course, not going to be cheap. 

Every donation, share, like on my tweets, positive message, helps to turn that fear into excitement, so thank you so so very incredibly much!

Solidarity always, 


Update 1

Cathy Boardman

Aug. 14, 2022


I just want to say thank you. I’m blown away by the amount of support, and that we almost doubled the initial target in 48 hours!

This means that the solicitor will be happy to go ahead with the case and we can fight this.

It also goes to show how we can all be stronger together. The more of us stand up and be counted, the less we can be bullied into submission and silence.

My aim is to be as honest, open and upfront about as much as I can be, and so will continue to update. Right now I am waiting for the response and don’t have a tribunal date, but will keep you all up to date.  

Solidarity and strength to us all, we can do this!

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