Districts deny that books mentioned by Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson are taught in schools

Tuesday, October 12, 2021
Robinson calls images in LGBT book 'borderline child pornography'
As calls for his resignation grow louder, Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson spoke again about his remarks toward LGBTQ education in schools.

RALEIGH, N.C. -- As calls for his resignation grow louder, Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson spoke again about his remarks toward LGBTQ and sexually charged material in schools.

Robinson held a news conference Tuesday afternoon, where he announced that "not only are we not resigning, we are not going to stop until the schools of North Carolina are safe from this kind of filth."

Robinson has been no stranger to controversial statements, but the comments protesters are pointing to this time around happened in June during a speech Robinson gave at a church. Video of the speech surfaced online last week.

WATCH: Lt. Gov. Robinson's full news conference

Full raw video of Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson's news conference Tuesday.

In the video, Robinson called for a takeover of school curriculum, saying specifically "there's no reason anybody anywhere in America should be telling any child about transgenderism, homosexuality, any of that filth."

On Tuesday, Robinson said: "I am in favor of people being able to determine how they live in their own space and being safe in their own space and being secure in their own person. It is my job to protect people's rights and that's what I will do."

The rally came in response to a video that surfaced online where Robinson described teaching sexuality, including homosexuality, in schools as "filth."

He said there was some misconstruction around his remarks, reemphasizing that his issue is specifically with sexually charged materials in schools -- not with any group or individuals.

"These materials do not belong in the classroom, the hallways or the libraries," Robinson said as he displayed images from "Gender Queer," a comic-strip style book that showed graphic sexual images. He called the images "borderline child pornography."

"We're not calling any person 'filth' .. we're talking about inappropriate materials that are being presented to our children," Robinson said.

Robinson noted that he opposed all sexually charged material in schools, whether it be homosexual or heterosexual in nature.

He also showed messages that his office has received since his comments were made public -- many of them used racial slurs.

"I have disagreed with people socially, I have disagreed with people politically, I have disagreed with people spiritually," Robinson said. "But I have never disrespected someone like that."

At the news conference, he played a voicemail received by his office from someone angry at his "filth" comment. The message was filled with hateful expletives and racial slurs.

WATCH: 'We are not filth:' LGBTQ leaders push back against Robinson's comments

The rally came in response to a video that surfaced online where Robinson described teaching sexuality, including homosexuality, in schools as "filth."

The White House called Robinson's comments "repugnant and offensive," and Gov. Roy Cooper's office called them "abhorrent." The state Republican Party and North Carolina's two most powerful state lawmakers, House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate leader Phil Berger, have declined to comment.

Robinson already doubled down on those comments in an interview with ABC11 and with a video posted to his Facebook page on Oct. 9. He said his comments have nothing to do with equal treatment under the law for LGBTQ people. Instead, he says he's crusading against "intimate details" of sexuality being taught to children in schools.

He put forth these examples:

  • A children's book he said was assigned to a fourth-grade class in Wake County called "George," which has been praised by some for its inclusion of transgender experiences but also banned in several school districts across the country for the same reason.
  • Two adult books ("Lawn Boy" by Jonathan Evison and "Gender Queer" by Maia Kobabe) which have also made headlines in other states for similar reasons.

Durham Public Schools confirmed that "Gender Queer" is not part of any school curriculum. Instead, it is available to be checked out at a library in one of the district's 54 schools.

Wake Schools said the books in question are not taught in its schools and they are not included in any curriculum. However, in some schools, they are available in the school library for students to check out, a spokesperson said.

On Tuesday, House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, responded to a request for comment from ABC11, saying he agreed with Robinson's premise.

"I agree with the Lt. Governor that it is inappropriate for our children to be exposed to sexually explicit images in reading materials provided by our schools," Moore said. "The Lt. Governor has clarified his statements and has said plainly that he was describing this reading material, not any person or community, in his remarks. Furthermore, the outpouring of racist, disturbing voicemails and messages directed at Lt. Gov. Robinson and his family are shameful and abhorrent.

"I represent not just some, but each and every one of my constituents in Cleveland County, and as Speaker of the House, I value and respect each and every one of our members and their families," Moore added. "I am confident that we can work together with greater respect for our neighbors even in the most passionate political debates."

On Monday, faith and community leaders representing the LGBTQ community held a news conference outside the lieutenant governor's office.

"It's heartbreaking still to see such hateful words come from somebody. It's pretty hard to hear," said Kori Hennessey, Director of Education and Programs at LGBT Center in Raleigh. "We have so many things we've had to fight for for such a long time and for something as simple as not being called filth and not being called names in general--it's just not something any of us will be quiet about."

Robinson's previous controversial statements

After the 2016 shooting at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, Robinson wrote on Facebook, "I pray for the souls of all those killed, healing for all those wounded, and comfort for the family members of the terrorist shooting in Orlando. However, homosexuality is STILL an abominable sin and I WILL NOT join in 'celebrating gay pride' nor will I fly their sacrilegious flag on my page."

In December 2016, Robinson criticized a National Geographic magazine cover titled "Gender Revolution" that displayed a 9-year-old transgender child. Robinson wrote, "The sick, deranged, sexual degenerates who promote this type of demonic behavior are the ones who will take the next step in our continuing moral decline toward total depravity. Free love, then homosexuality."

In 2017, Robinson wrote, "You CAN NOT love God and support the homosexual agenda."

Two years later, he chastised gender reassignment surgeries and accused parents of having "mentally raped" their transgender children. He also wrote in 2019 that "the same people who claim the new Rambo movie is (too) 'manly' are the same people who think it's OK for the homecoming queen to BE a man."

The Associated Press contributed.