The president of an Ohio university is
facing criticism after he defended posters encouraging LGBT people to
The posters were first spotted on
Cleveland State University's (CSU) campus on October 11, National
Coming Out Day, Fox 8 Cleveland reported.
In the flier, a man with a rainbow
heart is hanging from a noose under the headline, “Follow your
fellow faggots.” Also listed are misleading statistics about LGBT
rates of suicide. An unknown group named Fascist Solutions is listed
on the poster.
While local activists condemned the
posters, CSU President Ronald Berkman initially defended them as free
“[CSU's] foremost priority is
maintaining a welcoming environment that provides opportunities for
learning, expression and discourse,” Berkman said in a statement.
“CSU also is committed to upholding the First Amendment, even with
regard to controversial issues where opinion is divided. We will
continue to protect free speech to ensure all voices may be heard and
to promote a civil discourse where educational growth is the desired
“CSU remains fully committed to a
campus community that respects all individuals, regardless of age,
race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation and other
historical bases for discrimination,” he added.
The day after he made his comments,
Berkman added that he had failed to express his “personal outrage
over a recent incident involving an anti-LGBTQ+ poster.”
On Wednesday, Berkman apologized at a
meeting before some 200 angry students. But his apology rang hollow
to some students who decided to walk out.
“I can't make it all go away,”
told the students. “I wish all of us could make it all go
away. But we can't, so I need you to constructively tell us what we
can do, given the moment that we live in.”