Humphreys resigns from OU Board of Regents

Kirk Humphreys listened to public comments. Photo by Keith Oakley Rinearson.

By Robin Dorner
Editor in Chief

The University of Oklahoma (OU) Board of Regents held a special meeting today in Oklahoma City. The meeting is held in response to Kirk Humphreys statements about homosexuals on the December 10th episode of Flash Point.

After a special session behind closed doors, the Board returned, and Humphreys resigned.

"I want to reiterate the apology I made on Tuesday and my sincere regret. I understand, and fully support, the decision that the OU Regents made today. 

“It is my intention to resign from the Board of Regents at the beginning of the second semester. There was not a bad outcome for me today. I am at peace. I’ve been a Sooner all my life, and I intend to do everything I can working with this board and with Sooners around the world to keep moving this University forward.”

Clay Bennet, OU Board of Regents chair said, “This is a very difficult day for us. We have all learned a lot through this, and we have learned what is good for the University.”

On December 10th, Humphreys asserted that homosexuality is the reason for moral decline, using Barney Frank to compare homosexuality to pedophilia. Former OKC Mayor blames homosexuality for moral decline

This Tuesday Humphreys read an apology statement at a press conference.
Humphreys reads statement of apology for homophobic comments

His first apology came in a statement to the public. Is Humphreys apology too little, too late?

Other related stories:
          OKCPS Board Chair, others ask for Humphreys resignation.
          Parents speak out against Humphreys homophobic remarks.
          OKC’s PFLAG gets vocal against Humphreys homophobic comments
          Humphreys absent from OU Regents meeting.

Before the executive session, comments were allowed from the public.

“The comments that were made were very hurtful to our community, and I think very hurtful to the student body,” said Troy Stevenson, executive director of Freedom Oklahoma. “The most important thing we want to get across is these words when people make statements like this; it’s not about one person we are talking about, the community, in general, these young people and the bias and intimidation and the bullying they face from elementary school through college.

“We just want to make people aware their comments, their words go farther than just in that one moment. They have a grave effect on young people and the youth in our community.”

Stevenson thanked OU for this forum and thanked Humphreys for his apology and his sincerity.

Humphreys replied, “I would just like to thank Troy for his kindness to me over these days and his willingness to meet with me.”

Kay Holliday, PFLAG member, OU alum and donor with three children who graduated from OU said, “I’m speaking as a mom, and I don’t claim to speak for every parent or every mother in Oklahoma. However, these words that were spoken have done harm to our LGBT kids. My husband and I happen to have a son who is gay.

“The harm that has been done can’t be retracted. I have listened to both of the apologies; the second one was better than the first. However, I think we can be transformed and evolve over time. However, I have spent a lot of time going over the University of Oklahoma’s non-discrimination policy as well as it’s ethics policy. I think every single regent should square up with those policies and if one does not, that person must resign.”

OU alum Nancy Harrington spoke about her son, Zack, who committed suicide. “He wrote extensively of the pain caused by words people say. He was born gay. God made him that way.”

J.D. Baker, student body president, said, “I appreciate your apology. I think it’s important; I think it’s very vital. That being said, I think there are still a lot of people are still upset…. I do appreciate your diligence. But keep in mind, there are a lot of people still watching. I think there’s a certain standard that the general public, as well as the students, believe in our leaders...there is a certain standard.”

Sara Ellis, chair of faculty senate said, “I would like to reiterate the statement the faculty made shortly after Mr. Humphreys made his comments, ‘We the members of the Norman campus faculty strongly condemn these comments. His views do not represent the OU faculty senate or the views or the view of the OU community. Our non-discrimination clause is clear that we do not discriminate against sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, disability, etc.

“The Senate calls on Regent Humphreys to resign.”

Tony Tyler, a 2011 graduate, said he was a student at OU when he was in the process of coming out. He lost the support of his job, friends, and family but, “My Sooner family took care of me; they came through for me. The comments that were made by Mr. Humphreys are the exact opposite. We know that students, faculty, and staff who are LGBTQ exponentially are more likely to experience bullying. The comments that you made…they are psychologically and emotionally violent.

“I would ask not only where is the apology, where is the commitment to make things better? Mr. Humphreys, the opportunity to lead is a privilege, and your words have undone that. Mr. Humphreys, I ask that you resign immediately.”

Kayla Bonewell, pastor of two Christian churches in Oklahoma City who is LGBT affirming and welcoming said, “I’m here to represent Christianity. As a pastor, I deal day in and day out with persons in my parishes; in my congregations who have been detrimentally affected by such comments as Kirk Humphreys made. A lot of my ministry is in support of persons who have been bullied by civic leaders, by community leaders, and I think we can do a lot better.

“I know this has affected OU, but I’m here as a larger community person saying we need to do more than just an apology. We have to make Oklahoma better, and I think we can do that.”

Leslie Rainbolt-Forbes was named new vice chair for OU’s Board of Regents.

Joe Sangirardi, OU LGBTQ Alumni Society President said in a statement this afternoon, "Today, all LGBTQ Oklahomans join the OU family to celebrate the powerful precedent set by the resignation of Former Mayor Kirk Humphreys from the OU Board of Regents. We are all Oklahomans, and we should support one another, not tear each other down.

“The OU LGBTQ Alumni Society is so thankful for the great work by our incredible friends at Freedom Oklahoma and Oklahomans for Equality. LGBTQ students at OU, Cameron, and Rogers State--know that we are here to support you and to fight for you."

Copyright The Gayly 12/21//2017 @12:16 p.m.