Oklahoma governor voices support for former OU student suing school over exclusion for her conservative viewpoints

Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt stated his support on Friday for former University of Oklahoma volleyball player Kylee McLaughlin who is suing her former university for violating her First Amendment rights.

Hannah Nightingale Washington DC

Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt stated his support on Friday for former University of Oklahoma volleyball player Kylee McLaughlin who is suing her former university for violating her First Amendment rights.

"Governor Stitt fully supports every individual’s right to freedom of speech and thought," Stitt’s communications director Carly Atchison told the Daily Caller News Foundation Friday. "It's shameful that young people on college campuses, and in today’s world even K-12 classrooms, who dare dissent from the left's agenda are being punished."

McLaughlin is suing Board of Regents of the University of Oklahoma, volunteer assistant coach Kyle Walton, and OU volleyball head coach Lindsey Gray-Walton for a minimum of $75,000 for discriminating against her conservative viewpoints that reportedly did not fit the culture" at OU.

According to OU Daily, McLaughlin was a team captain and first team All-Big 12 player for the Sooners in 2018 and 2019.

Gray-Walton reportedly required the team to watch the Netflix documentary 13th last June, which details slavery and the mass incarceration of Africans Americans, and had team members discuss after the viewing.

"There, McLaughlin said while 'she agreed 100% that slavery was wrong,' she found the film to be 'slanted left' and to speak ill of then-U.S. President Donald Trump," wrote OU Daily. "Her lawsuit also states McLaughlin went on to say that 'Black incarceration was higher than other racial groups while representing a smaller overall percentage of the population,' which was mentioned in the documentary."

The lawsuit states that at least one of her teammates found her comments to be racist, and MCLaughlin was instructed to attend another discussion on the matter.

McLaughlin also received backlash for retweeting an ESPN article about the University of Texas abandoning the school’s "eyes of Texas" fight song due to racial undertones. In her retweet, McLaughlin posted a skull and crossbones emoji paired with the laughing clown emoji.

"Plaintiff was well-aware of the intense rivalry between OU and the University of Texas in athletics and had competed against the University of Texas Women’s Volleyball team on a number of occasions when she posted the emojis," the lawsuit said. "Plaintiff's opinion and belief was that the 'Eyes of Texas' is not a racist song and she was expressing her belief that it would be inappropriate to get rid of it at the University of Texas because it is a strong tradition."

Team members spoke out against her comment, with Gray-Walton texting her to remove the tweet. In a call the next morning set up by Gray-Walton, she reportedly told McLaughlin that “I can’t save you when you get into the real world when you leave here."

Gray-Walton, on the over hour-long call, also reportedly lectured McLaughlin on her white privilege, and ordered her to take down the tweet, as well as apologize to UT’s players and head coach on another phone call.

According to the lawsuit, McLaughlin was branded as a racist and homophobe after those two incidents by her teammates and coaches. McLaughlin was given the choice to transfer to being a regular student, or redshirting for the season and practicing separately without her teammates.

McLaughlin chose to redshirt, but said that her separate practices were never held. According to OU Daily, "during the course of her redshirt season, McLaughlin said she took more than 10 hours of diversity and inclusion training."

McLaughlin transferred to Ole Miss earlier this year.

"These events accusing Plaintiff of being racist and homophobic caused Plaintiff to experience great emotional distress, sleeplessness, and anxiety that greatly concerned Plaintiff’s parents, and Plaintiff’s mother attempted to discuss the situation with Defendant Gray-Walton who refused to accept her mother’s calls or texts," the lawsuit states. "Plaintiff’s mother attempted to call OU's PRO's, left a voicemail message and did not receive a return call."


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