Since my email to President Berkman at Cleveland State University regarding his response to the on-campus anti-LGBTQ posters bounced, I’m posting it here publicly for all to see. If you don’t know the whole scoop, here’s an Inside Higher Ed article that explains what happened. Long story short, flyers appeared on Cleveland State’s campus that urged LGBTQ individuals to commit suicide. Basically, Berkman responded to their appearance with “we’re fully committed to free speech.”
Dear President Berkman:
I’m writing this email to express my horror and outrage that you, as a university president, did not condemn the blatant hate speech on Cleveland State’s campus this past week.
I’m not sure what universe you come from, but in mine, a poster that goads LGBTQIA individuals to commit suicide certainly qualifies as hate speech. It’s also a dangerous message that has the potential to lead to very real, life-or-death consequences.
I am a transgender man. Many of my friends and coworkers, as well as my partner, are also transgender. The rate of death in my community is high enough. Do you want to allow the unfettered spreading of a message that has the potential to cause more death? If so, the blood is directly on your hands.
Transphobic and homophobic sentiments such as these aren’t just “opinions.” They have been documented as making up portions of fascist political platforms. If you don’t know your history, look it up! Nazis openly persecuted LGBTQ individuals, mostly focusing on gay men and transgender women, prior to World War II. Don’t believe me? Start reading here. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persecution_of_homosexuals_in_Nazi_Germany_and_the_Holocaust)
Your initial response to these posters was ignorant at best, and at worst is open support of fascism and prejudice on the campus of a public institution. Shame on you.
Then again, your actions suggest to me that perhaps I am incorrect in assuming you even have the capacity to feel shame.
Nico Ian Nicholson