By Bryan Mims
RALEIGH, North Carolina (WRAL) — Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson wants three LGBTQ-themed books removed from North Carolina schools, calling them “sexually explicit.”
Robinson’s Facebook video targeting “George,” “Lawn Boy” and “Gender Queer” was posted on Saturday, days after he was denounced by Democrats and the LGBTQ community for referring to homosexuality and transgenderism as “filth” and “garbage.”
“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 said in the video.
He noted that a parent complained months ago to his task force examining what he calls indoctrination in classrooms that “George,” which is about a transgender girl in fourth grade, was available in an elementary school.
“Gender Queer” is a graphic novel with images that depict sexual fantasies and behavior among its characters, and Robinson showed some of them in his video.
“I challenge you to describe them as anything other than filth,” he said. “These materials do not belong in public schools.”
WRAL News was able confirm that “Gender Queer” is available in the libraries at Cedar Ridge High School in Hillsborough and East Mecklenberg High School in Charlotte. But a Wake County Public School System spokeswoman wasn’t able to say Monday whether any of the books are used in local classrooms or available to students in their libraries.
“The books that Lt. Gov. Robinson discussed can be found in school systems throughout the state,” Robinson spokesman John Wesley Waugh said in a statement, noting “Gender Queer” is available in Wake County schools.
“Additionally, the other books he referenced have been found in elementary, middle and high schools in multiple counties across the state,” Waugh said.
He wasn’t able to cite any school where the books have been used by teachers, however.
Representatives of the state Department of Public Instruction couldn’t be reached Monday.
Deborah Caldwell-Stone, director of the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, said all three books have been honored as books for young people in the LGBTQ community that tackle difficult issues.
“There are always groups that find themselves not represented in the library’s collection, and to support students who are going through these issues, administrators may decide to make these books available,” Caldwell-Stone said.
“Gender Queer” has been temporarily pulled from several school libraries across the country.
“I will continue to fight for the rights of our children to receive an education that is free of sexual concepts that do not belong in the classroom, and I don’t care who doesn’t like it,” Robinson said in the video.
He was similarly defiant Friday in an interview with WRAL, as Democrats from the White House to the state Senate decried comments on homosexuality and transgenderism he made months ago.
“There is no reason anybody, anywhere in America should be telling any child about transgenderism, homosexuality or any of that filth,” he told the congregation at Asbury Baptist Church in Seagrove during a June visit. “And yes, I called it filth. And if you don’t like it that I called it filth, come see me about it.”
The lieutenant governor said he wasn’t speaking in his official capacity when he was at the church, only as a person holding to his religious beliefs.
“To me, it is against the tenets of my religion,” he said. “But we do not live in a theocracy, and I do not have the right to tell anyone what they practice in their home.”
Teaching about those issues in public schools, however, “is absolutely off limits,” he said.
“Those are adult topics that should stay in an adult place. They have no business around children,” he said. “Homosexuality is not a culture. Homosexuality is a sexual preference, and sexual preferences, I believe, do not need to be discussed in our schools.”
Faith leaders from about 20 organizations protested outside Robinson’s downtown Raleigh office on Monday evening, demanding that he apologize for his remarks and asking him to meet with them and members of the LGBTQ community.
“First and foremost, they hurt me as a gay man, as a gay man of faith,” protest organizer Rev. Vance Haywood said of Robinson’s rhetoric. “To hear someone stand up – a public official, the lieutenant governor of the state where I live – saying that I am filth and that people like me are filth, that hurts.”
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