Demonstrators chant 'we say gay' in Florida Capitol to protest 'Don't Say ...
Equality Florida

A professor in Oklahoma was fired from his job of 41 years for inviting a gay man to speak at the university.

Michael O'Keefe was a tenured arts and design professor and had taught at Oklahoma Christian University for more than four decades.

He taught a class called The Business of Branding Yourself and invited a Christian man – a former alum who also happened to be gay – to speak at a session about overcoming the challenges in his life.

Students were warned that there may be strong language during the talk, as the words d**k and b**ch were used in the address to the class.

Following the talk, O’Keefe was subsequently investigated by the private university and ultimately fired for gross misconduct.

O’Keefe’s lawyer, Kevin Jacobs, told DailyMail.com: “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.”

He confirmed that O’Keefe was fired for “gross misconduct, conduct contrary to the mission and values of Oklahoma Christian University and disregard of the policies and values of the university”.

It comes less than a month after Florida passed the controversial “Don’t Say Gay” bill sparking high school protests.

An alleged former student of Oklahoma Christian University’s graphic design department tweeted her sadness to learn that the professor had lost his job.

Sign up to our new free Indy100 weekly newsletter

In a Twitter thread, Julia wrote: “As an alumni of Oklahoma Christian University’s graphic design department, I am shocked and saddened to know that Michael O’Keefe has been fired.”

The woman praised O’Keefe, saying the professor “changed my life for the better”, adding, “I know for certain that I would not be where I am today without Michael O’Keefe”.

Another person came to the defence of O’Keefe, replying: “O’Keefe is a friend of my mom & was also one of my professors when I was in the art department.

“I’ve known him since I was a kid. And incredible professor & incredibly inspiring. He demanded excellence from me & I did some of my best assignments under his tutelage. Truly gutted.”

Indy100 has contacted Oklahoma Christian University for comment.

Have your say in our news democracy. Click the upvote icon at the top of the page to help raise this article through the indy100 rankings.

Please log in or register to upvote this article
The Conversation (0)