Cleveland State University is addressing growing backlash surrounding their response to an anti-LGBT flier posted on campus.
The flier appeared to be advocating for LGBT people to kill themselves, depicting an illustration of a man with a rope tied around his neck. It also gave statistics of what it claims were suicide rates among the LGBT community. In bold letters it read: "Follow your fellow *expletive*."
The fliers went up the same day the school opened its first LGBT center.
They were taken down immediately, but not because of the hate-filled message.
When News 5 confronted Cleveland State about the fliers, administrators said they were protected under the first amendment.
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On Monday, the university's president said that while he personally doesn't condone the messages, legally, they can be posted on campus.
The reason they were taken down, administrators said, was because the group behind the fliers didn't follow proper posting procedure.
That response caused outrage on social media, with users saying hate speech should be considered unacceptable.
So apparently, at @CLE_State you can put up a poster like this so long as you get prior approval. Seriously, the only reason they took it down was b/c it didn't have "prior approval." #WTF @CLE_State??? The message wan't enough to give you concern? #AltRightyThen #EndHomophobia pic.twitter.com/LPvm1HFn4k
— Jon In Canada (@sirlthr69) October 17, 2017
Since when is Hate Speech and suggesting people commit suicide protected by the 1st Amendment? @CLE_State pic.twitter.com/QjGpXvslmT
— Cameron Fisher (@Cameron__Fisher) October 17, 2017
.@CLE_State - telling someone to take their own life isn't free speech. That's not an opinion. It's working to incite harm.
— Robbie S. (@SIKACEO) October 17, 2017
You'd think a college president would know that the First Amendment applies to the government, not a school. Free speech =/= hate speech.
— Josh Aterovis (@Aterovis) October 17, 2017
This is beyond hate speech. This poster literally says "Fascist Solutions." The way @CLE_State responded is absolutely horrendous. pic.twitter.com/xWveIXkPEW
— // (@spookyknafeh) October 17, 2017
Eric Long, attorney at Friedman & Nemecek LLC, does not represent CSU but he also said it's a matter of free speech.
“Hate speech is not recognized as an exception to the first amendment," he said. “There’s always going to be another side to this and the people that oppose it do have the right to express their opposition, even if it is done in a hurtful way."
Cleveland State says, had that group followed proper posting procedure, the fliers would have stayed up.
In another letter sent to students Tuesday, the school president said he "failed to express [his] personal outrage" over the flier. He reaffirmed that CSU works to make the campus safe and inclusive.
He also said that he will be hosting a student forum Wednesday at 2 p.m. at the main classroom auditorium for anyone who wants to discuss their concerns.
CSU @PresBerkman sent another letter to students regarding anti-LGBT fliers following online backlash. pic.twitter.com/tRFDoZo3Hr
— Mona Kosar Abdi (@MonaAbdiWEWS) October 17, 2017