North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson doubled down on comments he made last week calling “transgenderism” and homosexuality “filth,” accusing the LGBTQ movement of pushing sexually explicit or age-inappropriate books and other materials in schools.
Robinson has been heavily criticized by LGBTQ advocates since a now-viral video clip emerged of him speaking at Asbury Baptist Church in Seagrove, North Carolina, in June, ranting about what he sees as the ills of public schools.
Right Wing Watch, a project of People for the American Way that documents and catalogues videos, recordings, and other media highlighting the actions, incendiary rhetoric, and lies or misrepresentations made by conservative politicians and activists, was the first to share the clip of Robinson’s speech at Asbury Baptist.
Among the assertions Robinson made in his speech were that public schools teach children how to “hate America,” that they overemphasize issues of racial and cultural diversity and unfairly label (presumably white) people as “racist,” and that they unnecessarily expose children to issues related to homosexuality and “transgenderism.” He said that exposing children to such content is tantamount to child abuse.
“There’s no reason anybody anywhere in America should be telling any child about transgenderism, homosexuality, any of that filth,” Robinson said in his June remarks. “And yes, I called it filth. And if you don’t like it that I called it filth, come see me and I’ll explain it to you. It’s time for us to stop letting these children be abused in schools, and it’s not going to happen till the people of God stand up and demand different, same ones that established those schools to begin with.”
Two months later, at a different church, Robinson made a similar speech — also obtained and posted online by Right Wing Watch — echoing some of the same themes. Speaking at the Upper Room Church of God in Christ in Raleigh — a church run by the vehemently anti-gay Bishop Patrick Wooden — Robinson again ranted about the transgender rights movement.
“Here’s something else I’m not supposed to say: Ain’t but two genders,” Robinson said. “You can go to the doctor and get cut up, you can go down to the dress shop and get made up, you can go down there and get drugged up, but at the end of the day, you are just a drugged-up, dressed-up, made-up, cut-up man or woman. You ain’t changed what God put in you, that DNA. You can’t transcend God’s creation; I don’t care how hard you try. The transgender movement in this country — if there’s a movement in this country that is demonic and that is full of the spirit of Antichrist, it is the transgender movement.”
He also urged Christians to begin speaking out against “transgenderism” and to refuse to affirm transgender people’s identities that run afoul of their religious beliefs — even if doing so would be polite and avoid an unnecessary confrontation.
“It’s time for grown-ups and time for Christians to start standing up and being unafraid to tell the truth,” Robinson continued. “…I don’t care because it’s time for us to stand up. Now, I’m not afraid to stand up tell the truth about that issue. They’re dragging our kids down into the pit of Hell trying to teach them that mess in our schools. Tell you like this: That ain’t got no place at no school. Two plus two don’t equal transgender; it equals four. We need to get back to teaching them how to read instead of teaching them how to go to Hell.”
After the videos of Robinson’s comments were shared widely on social media, the White House denounced the comments as “repugnant and offensive,” according to McClatchy.
“The role of a leader is to bring people together and stand up for the dignity and rights of everyone; not to spread hate and undermine their own office,” Andrew Bates, a White House deputy press secretary and North Carolina native, said in a statement.
A spokesman for Gov. Roy Cooper (D) condemned Robinson’s comments as “abhorrent.”
“North Carolina is a welcoming state where we value public education and the diversity of our people. It’s abhorrent to hear anyone, and especially an elected official, use hateful rhetoric that hurts people and our state’s reputation,” Jordan Monaghan, Cooper’s press secretary said in a statement emailed to NBC News.
The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBTQ advocacy organization, called for Robinson’s resignation.
“We are calling on Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson to resign for his disgraceful, hateful statements directed at LGBTQ+ people. If Lt. Governor Robinson still doesn’t understand how anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric is received in North Carolina, he should ask former Governor Pat McCrory,” HRC Interim President Joni Madison said in a statement, referring to the former Republican governor whose 2016 re-election loss has been attributed to his insistence on pushing through HB 2, a bill restricting transgender people’s ability to access certain types of restrooms and eliminating all local nondiscrimination ordinances in the state.
“This is not the first time Robinson has shared his discriminatory views, but it should be the last time he gets away with it as an elected leader. North Carolinians deserve better than these dehumanizing comments,” Madison added. “This incident only reaffirms the serious need for comprehensive non-discrimination protections that would outlaw discrimination and make North Carolina a safer place for LGBTQ+ people to live.”
But Robinson doubled-down on his comments in a Facebook video, claiming he “will not back down” and accusing the LGBTQ community and those on the political left of trying to paint him as anti-gay in order to shift the focus away from the issue of inappropriate topics being introduced to schoolchildren.
“I will fight for and protect the rights of all citizens, including those in the LGBTQ community to express themselves however they want,” Robinson said. “However, the idea that our children should be taught about concepts of transgenderism and be exposed to sexually explicit materials in the classroom is abhorrent.”
Robinson shared explicit images depicting sexual acts from author Maia Kobabe’s illustrated memoir, Gender Queer, which he claimed is currently available in some North Carolina school libraries.
“As you look at these photos, I challenge you to describe them as anything other than filth,” he said. “These materials do not belong in public schools.”
Robinson also took issue with George, a novel by Alex Gino about a transgender girl struggling with her identity, objecting to the character’s desire to remove her genitalia, and Lawn Boy, a coming-of-age semi-autobiographical novel by Jonathan Evison, which has been flagged by other school districts in Leander, Texas, and Fairfax County, Virginia, for sexually explicit content, including a scene that allegedly contains bestiality.
Robinson declined to say which public school libraries make the three books he flagged available for checkout, although in both the Texas and Virginia cases, the books were only available at the high school level. Police in Leander have subsequently launched an investigation to determine whether Lawn Boy promotes “pedophilia,” based on a section in which an adult man, looking back on his life, recalls his first sexual encounter as a fourth-grader with a fellow classmate. In Virginia, the Fairfax County School Board has removed Lawn Boy and Gender Queer from all high school libraries until two committees can determine whether or not the books should be banned, according to The Washington Post.
“I will not be silent. And I will not be bullied into submission,” Robinson concluded in his video presentation. “I will continue to fight for the rights of our children to receive an education that is free from sexual concepts that do not belong in the classroom.”
These are challenging times for news organizations. And yet it’s crucial we stay active and provide vital resources and information to both our local readers and the world. So won’t you please take a moment and consider supporting Metro Weekly with a membership? For as little as $5 a month, you can help ensure Metro Weekly magazine and MetroWeekly.com remain free, viable resources as we provide the best, most diverse, culturally-resonant LGBTQ coverage in both the D.C. region and around the world. Memberships come with exclusive perks and discounts, your own personal digital delivery of each week’s magazine (and an archive), access to our Member's Lounge when it launches this fall, and exclusive members-only items like Metro Weekly Membership Mugs and Tote Bags! Check out all our membership levels here and please join us today!