Last week, someone at Cleveland State University put up these fliers, which appear to encourage LGBTQ students to kill themselves.
The flier shows a silhouette of a person with a rainbow-colored heart and a rope around their neck, and instructs queer students to “Follow your fellow faggots.” The flier also lists suicide rates for LGBTQ people—though, sadly, the statistics listed are lower than the actual suicide rates.
The fliers reportedly appeared on a campus bulletin board the same day CSU opened its first LGBTQ student center and appear to have been created by a group that calls itself “Fascist Solutions.” A similar flier appeared at a bus stop in Houston last April.
School officials have taken the fliers down and are looking into who put them up. CSU President Ron Berkman released a statement that left something to be desired (emphasis mine):
Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:
At Cleveland State University, our foremost priority is maintaining a welcoming environment that provide opportunities for learning, expression and discourse.
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.
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.
Be assured that a spirit of inclusiveness will always be central to the very identity of our University.
Ronald M. Berkman, President of Cleveland State University
Some CSU students were understandably outraged at the school’s lackluster response to the fliers:
On Tuesday, Berkman issued a follow-up statement, acknowledging that he “failed to express my personal outrage over a recent incident involving an anti-LGBTQ+ poster.” From Cleveland.com:
While I find the message of this poster reprehensible, the current legal framework regarding free speech makes it difficult to prevent these messages from being disseminated.” he wrote. “However, let me make it clear that I am committed to promoting a safe and inclusive campus for all members of our community. I recognize this incident has created significant concern around the campus.
CSU students will hold a rally on Thursday to tell university officials that “hate speech is not free speech.”
The National Suicide Prevention Hotline can be reached at 1-800-273-8255.