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In Response to Hate Speech at Cleveland State University

Oct 17, 2017



Phyllis Harris, Executive Director

On Wednesday, October 11th, we celebrated National Coming Out Day. This was a special celebration this year for students at Cleveland State University because it also celebrated the establishment of a drop-in space for LGBTQ people on campus. The celebration was short-lived as only days later CSU students, faculty, and staff were faced with the brutal reminder that there are those who would rather see us dead or suffer in silence than live our truths.

The flyers are a display of violence perpetrated against the LGBTQ community. One of the posted flyers provides rates of LGBTQ-related suicide while actively encouraging LGBTQ individuals to consider suicide themselves. Regardless of the misinformation related to suicide rates of LGBTQ people, it is absolutely appalling that such violent and hate-filled content would be posted, and later protected as freedom of speech, on a college campus.

Cleveland State President Ronald M. Berkman has since sent an update to his original statement calling the posters “reprehensible,” but also noted that current legal framework ‘makes it difficult’ to protect LGBTQ people on campus from such messaging. While we appreciate this clarification, it is imperative that leaders boldly use their power and influence to actively condemn hate speech of this kind. The focus of this conversation should remain on the physical and psychological safety of Cleveland State’s LGBTQ community and not on the rights of those who wish them harm.

White supremacist, anti-LGBT hate groups such as this are re-emerging in mainstream conversations, emboldened by the national discourse promoting violence towards marginalized communities. The content of this flyer is not about physical violence, it is about intimidation, oppression and dehumanization of queer and trans people. This incident clearly reminds us why visibility for LGBTQ people is important. Additionally, it reminds us why organizations like the LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland and LGBTQ supportive resources at Cleveland State exist.

If you would like to support LGBTQ students at Cleveland State, there will be a meeting with Ronald Berkman and his staff tomorrow, October 18th at 2 PM in the Main Classroom Auditorium located at 1899 East 22nd Street.

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, there are resources for help.

  • Cleveland Mobile Crisis: 216-623-6888
    • Crisis Text Line: Text ‘GO’ to 741-741
  • National GLBT Hotline:  888-843-4564
  • Trevor Lifeline: 866-488-7386
  • Trans Lifeline: 877-565-8860
  • SAGE LGBT Elder Hotline: 888-234-SAGE

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