A professor in Sweden who recently spoke about the biological differences between men and women says he's now being investigated by his university.
Germund Hesslow, a professor of neurophysiology at Lund University, is speaking out about how his employer has launched a "full investigation" into his remarks about the biological realities of gender.
According to the Sweden-based Academic Rights Watch, Hesslow has taught a course for years on "Heritage and Environment" in the Lund University medical program. In that course, he has addressed such topics as biological gender differences.
The watchdog organization reports that Hesslow would sometimes be questioned by students who don't like that his teaching is not based on "the gender scientific approach adopted in politics."
Hesslow maintains that gender is not entirely socially constructed because empirical research has found that there are statistical gender differences in behavior that are biologically based.
Hesslow told ARW, which was founded to monitor "attempts to restrict the fundamental rights of teachers and researchers," that he was asked by school administrators this month to apologize for his remarks on gender and LGBT people that drew the ire of feminist students who complained.
Hesslow fears that there are "forces in leadership" who seek to hire another teacher to teach the course that he has developed over the years.
In a statement emailed to The Christian Post about Hesslow's claims, Lund University's international press officer, Lotte Billing, said:
"There has been criticism levelled against a lecture entitled 'Nature, nurture and the biology of sex differences' given at the medical program at Lund University. We take feedback from our students very seriously. We also take academic freedom very seriously. It is important that different perspectives are allowed within our programs and courses. On the other hand, we should never compromise when it comes to scientific standards in teaching, or maintaining a professional approach when interacting with our students. Lund University is currently investigating if the specific lecture was offensive in any way.
"We continuously strive to integrate issues relating to equal treatment, gender equality and diversity into all of the programs and courses given at the Faculty of Medicine at Lund University. Within the medical program, there is currently an ongoing development project that will affect the entire curriculum."
According to ARW, Hesslow's troubles began after one of his students sent an email about him to another teacher at the university.
"I am writing about Germund Hesslow's lecture on heritage and the environment focusing on biological differences between men and women. I have understood that previous students repeatedly complained to the lecture. Partly because it embodies Hesslow's own personal anti-Seminars agenda, and that neither biological differences between men and women nor genetic theory belong to his area of expertise," the student was quoted as writing.
"Why cannot we get a lecturer with the right skills on the subject instead? And, for example, could lecture about biological differences that have clinical significance? Or instead of a lecturer claiming that women are 'sexually cautious' because of the biology, they should be able to illustrate how women for centuries have been genital mutilation, forced sterilized, lobotomerate and forced labor in the name of medical science.
"I think that, as a woman, it is incredibly diminishing that a lecturer does not feel [the] social structures of oppressed women [that] made us modulate our behaviors for our own safety," the email adds. "How does this kind of lecture go with the gender perspective the education should have?"
The student also reportedly complained about how she heard from others that Hesslow has also "expressed himself transfobically [sic]."
"In response to a question of transexuallism, [sic] he said something like 'sex change is a fly.' Secondly, it is outrageous because there may be students during the lecture who are themselves exposed to [transphobia], but also because it may affect how later students in their professional lives meet transgender people," she argued. "Transpersonals [sic] already have a high level of overrepresentation in suicide statistics and there are already major shortcomings in the treatment of transgender in care, should not it be countered? How does this kind of statement coincide with the university's equal treatment plan? What has this statement given for consequences? What has been done for this to not be repeated?"
The student's concerns eventually made it to Christer Larsson, the chair of the Lund Medical Education Program Board. Hesslow was reportedly called to a meeting on Sept. 3 with administrators.
Hesslow was told to retract two particular statements by submitting in writing that those statements were "unfortunately formulated." One of the statements is "gay women have a male sexual orientation." The other: "Whether it's a sexual orientation is a definition question."
Hesslow, however, has refused to apologize.
"I'm not going to give any further discussions about terminology. It's about an answer to a question from a student ... I think I have done enough to explain and defend my word choice," Hesslow reportedly wrote in a reply to Larsson. "Somewhere, one must ask for a sense of proportion among the people involved. If it would be acceptable and normal for students to record lectures with a view to finding compromise formulations and then engaging staff at the faculty with meetings and writing long journals, we should be able to shut down medical education. That this deal could lead so far is because most students do not have this attitude."
Hesslow, in an interview with the Russian government-funded news network RT, said that the university rector has ordered a full investigation into his case.
He added that there "have been discussions about trying to stop the lecture or get rid of me, or have someone else give the lecture or not give the lecture at all."
Since he's past the retirement age, Hesslow fears that the university could use his age as a reason to remove him from the course.