LAWSUIT: U of Oklahoma volleyball player shut out of program due to rejection of 'social justice’

A former University of Oklahoma volleyball player was removed from her team after she expressed politically conservative viewpoints in response to a diversity training.

The student is now filing suit and asking for $75,000 in damages.

A former University of Oklahoma volleyball player is filing suit after she refused to endorse social justice ideology and was removed from the team.

According to a lawsuit filed on May 25, Kylee McLaughlin — a current undergraduate at the University of Oklahoma — is a “Christian and political conservative.”

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As the women’s volleyball team leadership “changed dramatically” by emphasizing “discussions about white privilege and social justice rather than coaching volleyball,” all members were required to “participate in these discussions” and watch a documentary entitled “13th,” according to the lawsuit.

When prompted to share her thoughts on the video, McLaughlin “agreed 100%” that slavery is wrong. However, she expressed concern that the video was slanted “left” and levied unnecessary criticism against President Trump. According to the suit, she also “offered comments directly from the movie that Black incarceration was higher than other racial groups while representing a smaller overall percentage of the population.”

Days later, McLaughlin posted two emojis — a laughing clown and a skull and crossbones — on social media in response to a report that the University of Texas may stop playing its fight song, the “Eyes of Texas.” Members of the University of Texas’ women’s volleyball team responded to McLaughlin in the comment section.

On June 13, University of Oklahoma women’s volleyball head coach Lindsey Gray-Walton advised McLaughlin to stop posting such comments on social media. She reportedly told McLaughlin that she ought to more carefully consider her “white privilege.”

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On June 15, members of the coaching team and all seniors in the volleyball program met via Zoom to discuss McLaughlin’s earlier comments on the documentary. Teammates accused McLaughlin of racism. Although she attempted to apologize to her classmates, members of the group did not accept the apology because it was not delivered with enough “feeling.”

During another Zoom call on June 26 with the coaching staff, McLaughlin was told that she “did not fit the culture of the program,” according to the lawsuit. 

She was granted three options for her senior season: she could continue practicing “only with the coach and not the team” while retaining her scholarship and participating in the team’s “diversity, equity and inclusion” training; she could “just be a student” while keeping her scholarship; or she could “transfer with only two weeks left before volleyball started for fall semester.”

McLaughlin chose the first option. Throughout the fall season, she was “excluded from volleyball team pictures” and did not receive any team gear.

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Stating that McLaughlin’s punishment was “retaliatory” because of her “engagement in First Amendment protected speech,” the lawsuit requested $75,000 in damages. 

The university’s equal opportunity statement affirms that the school does not “discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, genetic information, gender identity, gender expression, age, religion, disability, political beliefs, or status as a veteran in any of its policies, practices, or procedures.”

A University of Oklahoma spokesperson declined to comment, as they do not comment on pending litigation.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @BenZeisloft