Curt Schilling (pictured), the former Red Sox pitcher, may have lost his job as an ESPN commentator after sharing a transphobic meme on Facebook. But that doesn't mean he is a "bigoted transphobe," his 16-year-old son says.
On April 19, the elder Schilling shared a hateful meme depicting transgender women as men and complaining that anyone who opposes equal access for trans people is labeled a "narrow-minded, judgmental, unloving racist bigot who needs to die!" Just one day later, Schilling was fired from his position as a baseball analyst on ESPN, sparking outrage among fellow Republicans.
The conservative commentator's teenage son took to Facebook the same day his father did, saying that the teen has many LGBT friends who often visit the Schilling household, and that his father has made "great strides to understand people today."
"If he were a bigot he wouldn't have allowed my Trans friends to stay over, he's respected pronouns and name changes- never once have I heard him say something to me that I thought he should keep quiet about," wrote Grant Schilling.
"For the people trying to portray my father as a transphobic bigot you aren't helping the community at all by making enemies," he continued. "If you were really a part of our community- rather than try and start lies you'd educate or at least try and get him to understand. He may say some stupid things but in this instance he's said nothing. Leave him be."
The former baseball star's wife, Shonda Schilling, also weighed in on Facebook the day her husband shared the initial controversial post. "DON'T EVER accuse anyone in the Schilling home of having issues or a phobia about trans people," she wrote on April 19. "Curt Schilling is probably more educated and has met more trans people then most of the sports writers spreading this non sense."
Since his termination from ESPN, the elder Schilling has made several appearances on SiriusXM's Patriot channel, speaking to right-wing commentators who host Breitbart News Daily, where he has addressed -- but not apologized for -- the problematic post.
[RELATED: Curt Schilling Got Canned. Now Where's Our Apology?]
Schilling first called into Breitbart News Daily on April 22, speaking with host and Breitbart News founder Stephen K. Bannon. To Bannon, he alleged that his firing was a result of "left-wing" bias against conservative voices in media, and particularly at ESPN.
"At a company where the rules are different based completely and solely on your perspective and your belief," Schilling said, his vast knowledge of pitching and professional baseball in general, combined with his conservative politics, just "didn't work."
"Listen, there is not a racist bone in my body," Schilling said on April 22. He continued:
"I'm not transphobic, I'm not homophobic. My 16-year-old son is one of the founding members of the LGBT club in high school. That's his group. That's the people he loves and hangs out with. ... Those kids are in and out of my house all the time. I've never in my life treated somebody based on a racial denomination, or a religion, or a sexual preference -- I don't care! I've never cared! As long as you're not sleeping with my wife, I don't care who you sleep with."
He went on to explain that as a former owner of a company with "more than 300 employees," he had several trans and gay people working for him. "They were some of the greatest people to work with," Schilling said. "They're still people I talk to and [am] friends with."
"If my 16-year-old son came home tomorrow and said to me 'Dad, I want to be a woman,' I would be disappointed," Schilling acknowledged. "Because as a man and a father, I want my son to experience fatherhood and being a father, and being a grandfather, and yada yada. But I wouldn't care. I wouldn't care. I would not feel any differently about him. I would not love him any less. I would actually be proud of the fact that he's trying to be true to himself. Even if I don't agree with whatever it is that's happening, I'm good with that."
Today, Breitbart News published the full audio of its "Patriots Forum" with Schilling, where Bannon and Breitbart editor-in-chief Alex Marlow introduced the athlete as a "pitching legend and conservative hero," who has been "silenced for his beliefs."
In the nearly hour-long conversation, Schilling repeated many of his preliminary comments, though he offered more in-depth remarks about his concerns surrounding transgender people using the bathroom that matches their gender identity.
"Because this whole transphobic thing, that grew out of a picture you just can't un-see, number one, but the fact of the matter was, my commentary around it was on the functionality of men's and women's bathrooms," Schilling said in the forum discussion audio released Thursday. "And honest to God, it was an opinion. I don't care where you pee. I really don't! But I'm more disturbed and perturbed by the fact that people feel that they need the government to step in and tell you how you can and can't feel about who's using the restroom."
Schilling then reiterated the thoroughly debunked claim that equal access policies for trans people create a legal "loophole" that sexual predators will use to assault people. In reality, while more than 200 jurisdictions nationwide have policies on the books that allow trans people to use the facilities that match their gender identity, there has never been a single verified instance where a trans person has assaulted a cisgender [nontrans] person. Law enforcement officials across the country have soundly rejected the fear that trans-inclusive policies will predicate an uptick in sexual assault in bathrooms or anywhere else.
Nevertheless, Schilling carried on:
"And listen; because transgender people can potentially pee in another bathroom, doesn't make them pedophiles. That's not, in any way, shape, or form, remotely the point. The point is, for me, and for anybody that has a daughter, I think they completely understand this: You've opened another small door for the wretched scum of the earth to do things that they, the pedophiles [want to do].
"And we're starting to see now reports of people doing the photograph thing, and doing the other stuff in bathrooms, not that it hasn't happened before, but now we're being made aware, and hyper-sensitive. Why give them more, not incentive, but why open the door for them, literally, even more?"
That's when Bannon chimed in, claiming that "every day," Breitbart gets "at least one" report of "something happening funny in the bathroom."
But that isn't what Schilling's critics are really concerned about, Bannon continued. "It's about breaking down the absolute genders of male and female," he said. "That it's about blurring these lines."
Schilling responded that he believes anti-bullying protections for students are "an absolute must."
"But I think it's more important to educate the bully than the bullied," he continued. "I think it's more important to make people understand what a cowardly thing being a bully actually is."
Listen to Schilling's full interview on the Breitbart News Patriots Forum on Soundcloud.