Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson of North Carolina came under fire earlier this month because of his recent remarks about the transgender community in a speech to a church congregation. A deeply religious Christian man, Robinson stands by his belief that there are only two genders. He said, "You can't transcend God's creation, no matter how hard you try." Robinson believes that teaching materials related to the needs of the LBGTQ community has no place in schools.
Because of his stance on Critical Race Theory (CRT) and its close cousin, social-emotional learning (SEL) materials in the schools, Robinson has experienced significant criticism, some calling for his resignation. In mid-October, the backlash was particularly vitriolic from those in the LGBTQ community. Robinson refuses to back down or wilt.
He believes the transgender rights movement is “demonic” and “full of the anti-Christ spirit” because of his religious underpinnings. Especially in the context of the school environment, he says it is "time for us to stand up and [he's] not afraid to stand up, to tell the truth about that issue."
Robinson defended his statements on the transgender movement, stating:
"Look, my spiritual beliefs about transgenderism and homosexuality are completely separate from this office. And I can keep it separate from this office. That is not the issue we are talking about here. We are talking about this type of filth being spread in our classrooms and being spread to our children.
Again, I am going to state this to you. My personal and my spiritual beliefs about homosexuality are not pertinent. I will fight for folks' rights to be secure in their person every day that I am in this office. When I make moves to stifle people's rights in this state, no matter who they may be, then you can come and see me then. Until I make moves in this state to stifle people in this state the way the Governor stifled my right to go to church, come and see me."
His widely-criticized comments on homosexuality where he has described it as "filth" refer to the graphic, sexual material being taught in schools—not the LGBTQ community itself. The image below shows some of the material he references with his comments. The image is from a book called "Gender Queer," which was embedded in an email he sent to parents and supporters in the state. The email was sent after an Oct. 12 press conference.
SEL Curriculum/North Carolina Schools
During the press conference, he stated:
“You can look at this and clearly see this is quite possibly and probably child pornography being presented to our children.”
Robinson shared some of the comments his office had been receiving. He said he is "receiving hateful messages because we are standing up against child pornography in our schools."
He explained the double standard parents now face in the country in light of the recent NSBA letter labeling parents as potential "domestic terrorists" and the ensuing response from Attorney General Merrick Garland. Garland has threatened to unleash the powers of federal and state governments, including the FBI, to investigate parents who attend school board meetings and may be violent.
"If we are going to attack people going down to school board meetings, expressing their opinions about what's being forced on our children, I think we outta take a good look at this."
Robinson was referring to a whiteboard containing horrible racial slurs directed at him because of his personal beliefs. He mentioned that someone recently asked him about the definition of hate speech and he explained, "I'm familiar with that. I get it all the time because of my political and religious beliefs."
Mark Robinson/Letter to Parents
The most alarming part of the press conference came from the phone call audio he shared. The caller spewed racial epithets, telling Robinson he is a "nigger" and should "hang from the highest tree," among other vulgar statements. Robinson responded:
"I have disagreed with people socially. I have disagreed with people politically. I have disagreed with people’s spiritually but never have I ever disrespected somebody like that. That's the kind of language we're receiving in this office, from people who call us vile, hateful people.
The Lt. Governor continued to defend his perspective saying the kind of language he has used to describe graphic sexual material "is appropriate by North Carolina standards, by the law." He said he will not resign, nor will he back down from allowing "this kind of filth" in North Carolina schools. "We are going to keep fighting to make sure North Carolina schools are safe."
He further clarified his stance in a separate official statement, highlighting three books found in the state's schools, including “George,” “Lawn Boy,” and “Gender Queer.” Findings from an 831-page report published by his office entitled, Indoctrination in Public Education indicate there are issues with inappropriate and politicized material in North Carolina schools. He re-emphasized that his personal beliefs have nothing to do with curriculum policies in North Carolina schools.
"For several days now, I have been attacked because of a clipped video where I talk about removing the sexualization of children from the classrooms in our public education system. Of course the media and those on the left have tried to change the focus from education to the LGBTQ community—specifically—that I hate them. Let me be clear, I will fight for and protect the rights of all citizens including those in the LGBTQ community who choose to express themselves however they want.
That is their right as Americans and I don't think that government has any role in telling him otherwise. 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."
Per John Waugh, a spokesperson for Robinson, the “Gender Queer” book came to the attention of the office of the Lt. Governor through Cedar Ridge High School in Hillsborough, North Carolina (Orange County). He said the book has been "found in other counties across the state as well, including Wake and Buncombe counties.”
The report, released in August, found evidence of "critical race theory, biased lesson plans against conservative viewpoints, and white shaming," among other things. According to the report:
"The F.A.C.T.S. Task Force received and processed over 500 submissions from every region of North Carolina. The Office of the Lieutenant Governor has identified six overarching themes: 1. Fear of Retaliation 2. The Sexualization of Kids 3. Critical Race Theory (CRT) 4. White Shaming 5. Biased News Media and/or Lesson Plans 6. Shaming of Certain Political Beliefs"
Indoctrination in North Carolina Public Education/Robinson/August 2021
A sampling of comments are provided below:
- I don't want anyone knowing that I reached out to you and said anything about it as I don't want my child to have any issues in school. So please keep my name anonymous from the school if you choose to do anything with it. I waited this long because I didn't think it would do any good at all to say anything to anyone. 345 [My son] learned quickly it was safest not to Participate in class discussions rather than risk getting [or] risk being demeaned by the teacher (as he saw his other classmates suffer). I am so pleased to hear about this investigation. Parents and students have held their tongues for too long.
- I am a retired teacher and contacted a teacher I know in Johnston County with this email on 3/18/21 after getting her approval. I spoke to her today and she agrees that critical race theory is racism, however, she feels threatened as do others teachers if they speak out on any format. They are being silenced. She is afraid to EVEN send out this email or any communications with teachers or parents. This is a huge problem in our society.
- My daughters quickly learned to just write papers (assignments) from the teacher's point of view to get an A, and that's exactly what they got. They wrote countless papers supporting the BLM movement, although they didn't support it as they are not racists nor were raised to be. But with so much focus on racism, they just played the game. While they should have been learning math, science, history, etc., they were learning how to play the game to get a good grade.
- I am being targeted and pressured to leave the school through bad evaluation marks ("not demonstrated") without any evidence. This is because I have expressed conservative values at work. Receiving a ND mark will make you ineligible for promotion in the county. We were also scolded publicly (as a staff, not by name) if we were not interested in the "racial equity" training last month.
- I am a School Counselor at a middle school, so please keep this as confidential as possible. I am very concerned about the security of my job. Today in a Student Services meetings, we were given a document title Orange County Schools Gender Support Plan. This plan is 5 pages long and as a School Counselor, if a student wishes to transition their gender I have to fill out this plan. Moreover, I am not required to notify their parents. This plan details what bathroom they are to use, which teachers can know, identifies their preferred name and pronoun. I am also responsible for changing their preferred name and pronoun in Power School. It was stressed that I do not have to talk to the parents about these changes or plans. It's encouraged but we should call the Director of Student Services for more guidance before we contact parents. This all follows a Gender Support Protocol passed by our School Board in December that I was not aware of. While the Gender Support Plan has not been approved by the school board lawyer yet, we were advised to begin using it and to begin changing names in Power School as soon as possible. As a Christian, this practice puts me in direct conflict with my religion. As a parent, it terrifies me that a child can pursue transitioning with such liberty without the loving guidance of their parents. If my child were to pursue such a thing and exclude me from the process and the school encouraged it in this way, I would feel like my parental rights had been violated. I have taken no steps to resolve this problem. Mostly because I am very concerned that I would get fired for my personal beliefs if they were known. On the other hand, I know something has to be done because I'm not sure my beliefs, morals, and conscience can continue to be compromised.
- My name is … and I am in my 14th year of teaching high school … classes. [F]aculty and staff are required to attend professional development related to "equity" and "micro-aggression" as it relates to race, gender and other areas. They define micro-aggression as "The everyday slights, indignities, put-downs and insults that people of color, women, LGBT populations or those who are marginalized experiences in their day-to-day interactions with people." As a staff, we are being told we are unintentionally racist based on the color of our skin (white because we have racial bias we are "unaware" of. We are given examples of micro-aggressions such as a statement, "I believe everyone can succeed in today's society if they work hard and the most qualified people should get the job," [which] translates to "white people believe people of color are lazy and don't work hard." These presentations are making their way into the classroom as faculty and staff are promoting their own political beliefs and opinions onto their students.
Legislation called HB324 was passed in the state "to prevent the personal bias from being put into the education." However, Governor Roy Cooper vetoed it in mid-September, saying the bill pushes conspiracy-laden politics into public education.
Since the website was established in March, parents, community members and teachers have submitted insights and reports of bias to Robinson's task force. The task force is called The F.A.C.T.S Task Force (Fairness and Accountability in the Classroom for Teachers and Students). 500 of those comments from the community were used as the primary input for his report.
Still in place, the task force continues to document input from North Carolina parents, teachers, and staff who wish to report instances of bias in their children's classrooms using the website form. Robinson believes schools have become increasingly politicized over the years and it is our children who pay the price. Robinson has warned of the dangers of curricula and instruction that emphasize CRT. He endorsed the 1776 Citizen Pledge in July.
Steven Barger, vice-chair of the Brunswick County, NC school board, explained at the August report release meeting that his board implemented a revision of an older policy called Policy 7720 in June. However, on the subject of SEL, he says it "assists at-risk students."
"The Brunswick County Schools do value social-emotion learning (SEL), and 'the war on SEL is unfortunate because it was started to assist our at-risk students, and I don’t want to see it go away because of political highjacking. We need politics to get out of public education.'”
If CRT is to be truly removed from the schools in North Carolina, the General Assembly must pass a veto-proof bill. A letter to the editor in the Brunswick Beacon explains that the idea that there is actually a ban on CRT in the state is "misleading":
"Brunswick County School Board bans critical race theory, is misleading. The fight to keep the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) from indoctrinating our youth in a poisonous, Marxist, racist ideology is far from over. It is true that our county board of education (BOE) did make changes to Policy 7720 for county school employees that prohibits the presentation of social theories, including CRT. This change in policy is nothing more than a political “paper tiger.”
The NCDPI has mandated that CRT be taught in NC schools. Even Brunswick County BOE member David Robinson stated, “The BOE is continuing to follow the implementation of the new Social Studies Standards by NCDPI. This was not something developed on a local level, but curriculum that is mandated by NC."
Yes, the county BOE did ban CRT from our schools, but their resolution is meaningless unless the NCDPI changes their position in Raleigh or the General Assembly passes a veto-proof bill that prohibits the instruction of CRT."
Mark Robinson grew up "extremely poor," the ninth of 10 children. His Dad was an alcoholic who beat his mother repeatedly and violently. His mother was an inspiration to him, but the church was the "first place where [he] saw normalcy in his life; the first [male] role models [he] had in his life." His faith has given him an unshakeable conviction, one that guides his voice and his actions, despite those who might treat him poorly or misunderstand who he is and what he stands for.