The president of an Ohio university is facing criticism after he defended posters encouraging LGBT people to commit suicide.

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 speech.

“[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 result.”

“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,” Berkman 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.”