Correction: A typo in the original story has been corrected.
EDMOND, Okla. (KFOR) — A longtime Oklahoma Christian University professor has reportedly been fired for bringing in an openly gay lecturer.
“It was absolutely shocking to me,” said Emily Thornton, a former OC.
Michael O’Keefe taught graphic design at OC for 41 years, until last Monday.
“[Mr.] O’Keefe was fired because he had a class where multiple speakers came in and talked about their personal challenges and how they overcame them,” Thornton said.
O’Keefe’s attorney, Kevin Jacobs, supports these claims. The following is taken from a statement he sent to KFOR.
“Michael O’Keefe was fired by Oklahoma Christian University, allegedly for his “gross misconduct, conduct contrary to the mission and values of Oklahoma Christian University, and disregard for university policies and values” We believe Mr. O’Keefe was fired for inviting a guest speaker for his graduate class… This guest speaker is also gay,” Jacobs said. “Letting students expect a world where you could be different is the message Mr. O’Keefe wanted his students to hear. This is the message this speaker delivered, not an advocacy of gay rights. Unfortunately, that is not allowed at Oklahoma Christian University today. It cost Mr. O’Keefe his job.
KFOR called on Christian officials in Oklahoma to respond to claims that O’Keefe was fired for “bringing in a guest speaker who happened to be gay.” OC’s Chief Legal Counsel, Stephen Eck, said the following:
“The decision to terminate employment was made after a thorough review process. The university will always put the welfare of our students first in every decision we make. »
STEPHEN ECK, OC LEGAL COUNSEL
The dismissal sparked a social media frenzy, with many expressing outrage.
Jacobs said he and O’Keefe are still considering their options and deciding how to move forward.
The attorney’s full statement is as follows:
“On Monday, March 7, Michael O’Keefe was fired from Oklahoma Christian University, allegedly
for his “gross misconduct, conduct contrary to the mission and values of Oklahoma Christian
University and disregard for university policies and values”. Mr. O’Keefe taught at
Oklahoma Christian with distinction for over 40 years and was a tenured faculty member of the
We believe Mr. O’Keefe was fired for inviting a guest speaker for his senior class,
“The Business of Branding”. One of the topics discussed was the question of overcoming
obstacles and develop resilience and character. One of the speakers was an Oklahoma resident
A Christian alumnus and Christian adjunct teacher from Oklahoma for nearly 20 years. This speaker
is also gay.
Although this issue is polarizing within the religious community, it is certainly a reality within our
world and nothing to hesitate to discuss in the context of an academic institution,
especially someone bold enough to call themselves a Christian. Let the students wait for a world
where you can be different is the message Mr. O’Keefe wanted his students to hear. It’s the
message that this speaker delivered, not a plea for gay rights. Unfortunately, it’s not
licensed at Oklahoma Christian University today. This cost Mr. O’Keefe his job.
Rather than act in such a hasty and careless manner as the university, my client will
evaluate all the options available to him to remedy this wrongful and wrongful action, then
choose the course that respects not only their rights under the law, but the reputation they have
built with his many students, colleagues and friends.
KEVIN JACOBS, LAWYER
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