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Professor at US Christian University allegedly fired for bringing in gay speaker

by Kelly Valencia
Michael O'Keefe Oklahoma University.png - Banner image
Facebook: Michael O'Keefe

A US tenured professor at Oklahoma Christian University has allegedly been fired for inviting a gay speaker to address his pupils in one of his classes. 

Professor of arts and design, Michael O'Keefe had worked at the private institution for more than 41 years. 

Earlier this month, Professor O'Keefe invited several speakers to a session of his class entitled the Business of Branding Yourself. One of the speakers, a member of the LGBT community, shared his personal journey as a Christian and spoke about overcoming struggles in life. 

But according to Julia Layne, a former student of O'Keefe, while some students spoke positively about the speaker's story, some others said they found it uncomfortable. 

Layne added that at the start of the class, Professor O'Keefe warned the students that there would be explicit language used.

After this, the university's administration received a complaint and an investigation was launched, later concluding in the termination of Professor O'Keefe.
 
Writing on Facebook on 12th March, Professor O'Keefe's wife, Lori Osley, alleged on Facebook her husband had been made redundant for bringing in a gay speaker. 

"Normally spring break is an exciting time for my husband, Michael O'Keefe; but, this year it is different," she wrote.

"After 41+ years at Oklahoma Christian University he was let go this past week. The reason?

"Because he brought in a guest speaker, who was a former alum to visit with the students about how he overcame a personal challenge. He was one of several speakers brought in. However, he was gay."

She continued by saying the guest speaker "only spoke about his personal journey" and was not trying to promote any "type of lifestyle". 

Kevin Jacobs, Professor O'Keefe's lawyer confirmed to the Daily Mail the he had been fired for gross conduct.

"It's embarrassing for a Christian university, and it doesn't sound like much of a university if you can't have a free exchange of ideas," Jacobs told the Daily Mail. 

He added: "It is our belief Mr O'Keefe was terminated for having a guest speaker for his senior level class. This speaker is also gay.

"Letting students expect a world where you may be different is the message Mr O'Keefe wanted his students to hear. That's the message this speaker delivered, not an advocacy of gay rights.

"Unfortunately, that's not permitted at Oklahoma Christian University today. It cost Mr O'Keefe his job." 

Stephen Eck, the University's chief legal officer, told the Daily mail: "The decision to end employment was made after a thorough review process" and insisted the decision was made for the "wellbeing of our students".
Professor O'Keefe is considering whether to launch legal action. 

Premier has contacted Oklahoma Christian University for comment. 
 

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