'We are not filth:' LGBTQ leaders meet at Lt. Gov. Robinson's office after homophobic comments

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Faith and community leaders representing the LGBTQ community held a news conference outside the lieutenant governor's office Monday evening.

The rally came in response to Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson's speech at a church that surfaced online where he described teaching sexuality, including homosexuality, in schools as "filth."

"It doesn't matter where the speech was given. It was given in Eastern North Carolina. His remarks were that 'nowhere in America,' so he broadened that to everywhere in America but this isn't a political issue. It's a human rights issue," said Pastor Vance Haywood. "You're costing people their lives so this isn't about blue states, red states blue counties, red counties this is about people having the right to live."

"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.

Hennessey said it might be best in some instances of hate to ignore the person and move on, however, these specific comments are not something they can be quiet about.

"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," said Hennessey.

Robinson's words angered many in the gay community and faith leaders explained their three demands at the news conference.

The leaders demand Robinson apologize publicly for what he said in June, take a meeting with stakeholders and LGBTQ + leaders and to resign if he does not meet the first two requests.

The ACLU and Equality NC were invited to attend the news conference.



In a previous interview with ABC11, Robinson stood by his remarks.

"We are not talking about the fight for equality and if those people want to challenge me on that, that's fine," he said. "What I'm talking about are intimate details and yes, there is material out there that shares intimate details about homosexuality, about sexuality in general, to our students. That has got to stop."

Robinson also posted a video on his Facebook page releasing what he says is evidence of the materials he's talking about that are being taught in schools.

That evidence came from submissions to Robinson's task force that spent months trying to gather evidence of indoctrination in the school system.

It includes a children's book that he says is assigned to 4th-graders in Wake County called "George," which has been praised for its inclusion of transgender experiences but also banned in several school districts across the country for the same reason.

The other two books Robinson cites as evidence of indoctrination being taught in schools have not been linked to any specific lessons or assignments in North Carolina schools. However, both books are reportedly available to be checked out in some high school libraries.

These books, "Lawn Boy" by Jonathan Evison and "Gender Queer" by Maia Kobabe, have made headlines in other states. Most recently the two books were pulled from school libraries in Virginia after parents complained about them.

"The book Gender Queer is not a Durham Public School curriculum resource and is not standard in our library collections. One DPS library has this book available in its collection and available for check out. Durham Public Schools is in alignment with the American Library Association's philosophy regarding the Library Bill of Rights: 'Books and other library resources should be provided for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community the library serves. Materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation.' A diverse collection should contain content by and about a wide array of people and cultures to authentically reflect a variety of ideas, information, stories, and experiences," DPS said in a statement.

In 2020, Robinson, a Republican, became North Carolina's first Black lieutenant governor.

Robinson has been an outspoken critic of keeping children at home for virtual learning during the pandemic. He has also repeatedly alleged that indoctrination in schools is a serious issue.
Copyright © 2021 WTVD-TV. All Rights Reserved.