A professor at Oklahoma Christian University in Edmond, Okla., has been fired, allegedly after having a gay speaker present in his class.
Michael O'Keefe had been teaching graphic design at the university for 41 years until he was sacked on Monday, local TV station KFOR reports.
"It was absolutely shocking to me," Emily Thornton, an OC alumnus, told the station. "O'Keefe was fired because he had a class where several speakers came in and talked about their personal challenges and how they overcame them."
In a statement provided by O'Keefe's lawyer, Kevin Jacobs, the former professor said the claims were true.
"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 of the policies and values of the university. It is our belief Mr. O'Keefe was terminated for having a guest speaker for his senior level class... One of the speakers was an Oklahoma Christian alumnus and an Oklahoma Christian adjunct professor for nearly 20 years. This speaker is also gay," Jacobs told the station.
"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," he continued. "Unfortunately, that's not permitted at Oklahoma Christian University today. It cost Mr. O'Keefe his job."
KFOR requested a response from the Oklahoma Christian about the allegations. Stephen Eck, the university's chief legal counsel, said, "The decision to end employment was made after a thorough review process. The university will always put first the wellbeing of our students in every decision we make."
Many have taken to social media to express their disbelief over what allegedly happened.
Jacobs said O'Keefe and his team were still deciding on their next steps.