'Straight Pride Week' at Ohio university faces criticism

(Photo: Reuters)

A non-sanctioned "Straight Pride Week" at an Ohio university is under fire from students and LGBT advocacy organisations for mocking gay pride events.

Signs reading "We're taking back the rainbow" appeared on the campus of Youngstown State University earlier this week.

"What better way to kick off finals week?" the posters read. "Join us in celebrating straight pride week at YSU by not annoying the [expletive] out of everyone about your sexual orientation!

"It's easy to join too! Just come to YSU, then go about your day without telling everyone about how 'different' you are."

University workers removed the posters with the help of students, and YSU Public Information Officer Ron Cole emphasised that the demonstration was not an officially recognised event.

"While we recognise the right to free speech, this is counter to our mission of being a diverse and accepting campus," he told the Huffington Post, calling the anti-LGBT week "bogus."

The posters at YSU appeared just days after students at McGuffey High School in Claysville, Pennsylvania organised an "Anti-Gay Day" in protest of an LGBT awareness event. The students wrote "anti-gay" on their hands, wore flannel shirts, and wrote Bible verses on the lockers of openly LGBT students.

The Advocate reported that physical fights even broke out in the school's hallways.

While no violence or other intimidating behaviour was reported at YSU, an LGBT advocate on campus said that there has been some concerning activity following the "Straight Pride Week" demonstration.

"We're getting a lot of negative comments toward our community," said Tim Bortner, president of LGBT group YSUnity. "There has been a lot of harassment and things [on social media]. Our members are seeing that and our communities are seeing it and it's making them feel unsafe."

YSUnity planned a marriage equality rally for May 9, and is concerned that there may be violence or heckling. The YSU Student Government released a statement criticising the anti-LGBT posters, and called for increased awareness of LGBT issues.