I am not filth. And neither are you. This isn’t something that I should have to declare. But readers of this column know that there are people who don’t think LGBTQ people are human. Far too many are in positions of power where what they say and do has real repercussions for LGBTQ+ people.
One such person is North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson.
You may remember that in 2016, North Carolina drew a lot of attention to itself with the passage of HB-2, the so-called “bathroom bill” that sought to keep transgender people out of public restrooms. It also ditched any measures to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination and told local governments that they weren’t allowed to pass such measures.
And hoo boy, were people pissed. The NCAA refused to hold championship games there. Bruce Springsteen canceled a concert. People were calling for a boycott of the state.
But then Trump won the presidency in 2016, and everything went to hell. Anti-trans measures ramped up across the country. Things went from “Don’t be a proudly anti-LGBTQ state” to “Don’t worry about passing anti-LGBTQ bills—Trump will do or say something to distract everyone from paying attention.”
Cut to Robinson referring to the LGBTQ community as “filth” while speaking at a Baptist church in June.
“It is flat-out child abuse to take your children and tell them they have to attend school. Don’t have a choice,” he says in a video posted by Right Wing Watch.
Once children get there, Robinson claims that schools teach “a bunch of stuff about how to hate America. Teach them a bunch of stuff about why they are racists. Teach them a bunch of stuff about transgenderism and homosexuality. I’m saying this now, and I’ve been saying it, and I don’t care who likes it: Those issues have no place in a school. There’s no reason anybody anywhere in America should be telling any child about transgenderism, homosexuality—any of that filth.”
A lot of right-wing talking points here! Let’s break them down.
Teaching about America’s very racist history, not to mention its present, is not anti-American. Also worth noting that Robinson is Black. Apparently, he’s one of the few Black Americans not bothered by racism. It must be nice, I guess. Certainly is nice for North Carolina’s white supremacists who get to point to their Lt. Gov. as proof that they aren’t racist.
And then there’s “transgenderism,” which isn’t a thing, but we know what he means. We get it. He thinks that LGBTQ people are filth. Dirt. Trash. Garbage. Sub-human. A very chill thing for a public official to say.
And in the very next breath, he repeats it. “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,” he says. “It’s time for us to stop letting these children be abused in these schools.”
OK. So teaching about racism and LGBTQ people is child abuse. Got it.
I did a Google search for news stories about actual child abuse in North Carolina, intending to give some examples of actual abuse. But I am choosing NOT to share my findings because they are too horrible and sad and tragic and sick. However, after reading about any of these cases, I can assure you that if you still claim that a child learning that transgender people exist is child abuse, then maybe you don’t want to protect children as much as you want to punish transgender people.
In another video posted by Right Wing Watch, Robinson claims that criticism of his remarks is an effort to “intimidate forces on the right into silence.”
“I said what I said, and I believe what I said, and many people across this state feel the exact same way,” he says, adding, “I intend to double down on my effort against these things that are going on in our classrooms.”
Which means that LGBTQ people are going to have to continue to double down on their existence and humanity which is, frankly, exhausting and unfair. But that is sadly the world we still live in.