An American university has come under fire for defended fascist posters telling LGBT people to kill themselves.

The flier was posted on a billboard in Cleveland State University’s main classroom building on the same day the institution opened its LGBT centre, the Huffington Post reports.

The poster features suicide rates for LGBT people with the phrase “Follow your fellow faggots” printed above an image of a person with a rainbow heart hanging themselves.

While the posters were condemned by activists, CSU’s president Ronald Berkman defended them on the grounds of free speech.

In a letter to the university community sent on Monday (October 16), he claimed that while the university respects all individuals, they are “committed to upholding the First Amendment, even with regard to controversial issues where opinion is divided.”

The response was met with backlash, and Berkman issued a second statement on Tuesday (October 17) in which he expressed “personal outrage” over the flier and organised an open meeting the following day to address “concerns.”

During the meeting, students informed Berkman of how unsafe they now felt at the university, while others spoke of how they had personally attempted suicide or had LGBT friends who had attempted.

Berkman quickly apologised to the student body and asked those in attendance to “constructively tell us what we can do given the moment we live in.”

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