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Fired Over Gay Guest Speaker, Former Tenured Professor Files Lawsuit

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www.advocate.com

A professor with more than forty years of employment and tenure at a Christian university in Oklahoma has sued the school for firing him over a gay guest speaker he had invited to speak to his class.

The guest speaker, a former adjunct professor, is included in the lawsuit.Michael O’Keefe and Scott Hale filed an Oklahoma County District Court complaint alleging university administrators had stained their reputations.

According to them, Oklahoma Christian University, a Church of Christ-affiliated school, and its chief legal counsel Stephen Eck acted and spoke “wrongfully, intentionally, and recklessly” about the men.O’Keefe had invited Hale to speak in front of his graphic design class last March to give a presentation that involved his resilience through personal trauma, the Oklahoma independent news site NonDoc reports.As part of his Business of Branding Yourself class, O’Keefe would invite speakers to present on various topics to prepare students for postgraduate experiences.

Throughout the stories, O’Keefe emphasizes perseverance in the face of personal hardship.“Scott is a gay man, and he talked about how difficult it was to grow up in western Oklahoma and come to a school like Oklahoma Christian, at a time where being gay was not easy to be, if you will, publicly,” an attorney for O’Keefe told Oklahoma City NBC affiliate KFOR. “So, he told that story about just his own personal journey and really connected with the kids, not an advocacy of any type of gay rights.”The lawsuit indicates that the presentation happened on March 1.

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