Tenured Prof Fired Over Gay Speaker at “Inclusive” Christian University
As regressive anti-LGBTQ wave swells across the US
Just when you think things can’t get worse, they do
Florida’s anti-LGBTQ “Don’t Say Gay” bill is something most queer people in the U.S. could not have believed possible only a few years ago. It’s part of a growing wave of regressive action on LGBTQ issues, with trans youth especially targeted.
But sometimes it’s the “little” stories that slap you in the face and wake you up. Like this one:
When I first heard private Oklahoma Christian University (OC) fired a professor for inviting a gay man to address his class, I wasn’t surprised. When I dug deeper, though, I learned the story is actually face-slapping on several levels, another sign that regressive backlash against LGBTQ people is growing.
What sets this story apart is that OC is no bastion of reactionary Christianity. They are no Liberty University, no insular Evangelical Bible college. They’re a well regarded liberal arts school with respected nursing, engineering, and media programs. They traditionally stay out of politics, and they’ve even positioned themselves as “inclusive,” promoting social justice, DEI programs, and intersectionality on public web pages.
Nonetheless, this relatively liberal school, associated with the Churches of Christ movement, astonished students and former students last week with extremist anti-gay discrimination. At the center of the story is an almost universally loved, straight professor whose students have been sought out as particularly well prepared for high-level roles in the design industry.
Here’s what happened
On March 1, Professor O’Keefe introduced his senior-level “personal branding” class to a guest speaker, one of a series of such speakers presenting on diversity in branding. The guest speaker isn’t just a successful designer; he’s well known to many students as an OC alumnus and part-time professor of over 20 years.
Like all OC faculty members, he is a church-going Christian. He’s also an openly gay man, something he never hid from students or administrators. He reportedly…