ASHEVILLE, N.C. – North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson has doubled down after his comments calling transgenderism and homosexuality “filth” drew widespread rebukes and calls for him to resign.
Robinson, a Republican, made the comments in June at the Asbury Baptist church in Seagrove.
“There’s no reason anybody anywhere in America should be telling any child about transgenderism, homosexuality, any of that filth,” he told the audience. “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.”
Robinson holds the second-highest office in the state, and he would take over if Gov. Roy Cooper is ever unable to perform his duties.
His words went viral last week after the group Right Wing Watch tweeted a clip of his speech. In recent days, scores of advocacy groups and politicians – from Raleigh to the White House – have denounced what Robinson said.
“These words are repugnant and offensive,” White House Deputy Press Secretary Andrew Bates said in a statement Oct. 8. “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.”
In his tweet calling on Robinson to resign, state Sen. Jeff Jackson, who also is running for U.S. Senate, wrote: “There’s no debate here. This is open discrimination. It is completely unacceptable.”
Human Rights Campaign also called for Robinson’s resignation.
But Robinson is standing by his words. When asked by WRAL in an interview last week if he would use a different word besides “filth,” he said, “Absolutely not.”
In defending his comments, he argued he was specifically discussing the teaching of LGBTQ issues in public schools.
“That is in reference to introducing it to children in the classroom,” Robinson told WRAL, adding that “in our public schools, it has no place.”
He made similar comments Oct. 1 at an anniversary celebration for the North Carolina Values Coalition.
“And they’re pushing these perverted agendas, to try to teach our children that they’re really not boys or girls, or they’re shoving this homosexuality garbage down their throats,” he said.
In a Facebook post on Monday, U.S. Rep. Mark Walker backed Robinson up, saying, “Lt. Governor Mark Robinson is 100% accurate in describing the sexualization of our children in public schools. The content is filth, and the agenda is no less filthy.”
What children are taught in schools has been a major issue for Robinson. In March, he launched a “fairness and accountability” task force called F.A.C.T.S aimed at “exposing indoctrination in the classroom.” The task force’s online portal allowed parents to report alleged instances of indoctrination in K-12 classrooms.
When she first heard Robinson’s comment, Allison Scott of the Asheville-based nonprofit Campaign for Southern Equality said her thoughts went to LGBTQ young people who are experiencing prejudice because of their identities.
“For some of them, it starts taking away their hope that things are going to change or even can change,” said Scott, who is transgender. “And that’s scary.”
Scott said Robinson’s words illustrate why more local governments should push for more LGBTQ anti-discrimination ordinances.
Brian Gordon is a statewide reporter with the USA TODAY Network in North Carolina. Reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @briansamuel92.