He made these comments in a June interview on The Candace Owens Show, which is hosted by 30-year-old conservative commentator Candace Owens.
In the 40-minute episode, Owens asks the former Saved by the Bell star about the “weird trend” of Hollywood parents raising transgender kids, citing Charlize Theron as a prime example.
Back in April, Theron told the Daily Mail about her transgender daughter, Jackson, who was assigned male at birth but later self-identified as a girl.
Owens told Lopez she is “trying to understand this new Hollywood mentality where they just think their children now have the mental authority.”
“I am trying to understand this myself,” the Access Hollywood host responded. “I’m never one to tell anyone how to parent their kids, obviously, and I think if you come from a place of love, you really can’t go wrong.”
He continued: “If you’re three years old and you’re saying you’re feeling a certain way or think you’re a boy or a girl or whatever the case may be, I just think it’s dangerous as a parent to make this determination then… I just think about the repercussions later on.”
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“When you’re a kid … you don’t know anything about sexuality yet. You’re just a kid,” he added.
It’s important to note that being transgender is related to gender identity, not sexuality.
Lopez went on to say it’s important for “kids to be kids” but that parents need to be the adults in these situations.
He appeared to apologize for his comments on Wednesday.
In a statement, Lopez said: “The comments I made were ignorant and insensitive, and I now have a deeper understanding of how hurtful they were. I have been and always will be an ardent supporter of the LGBTQ community, and I am going to use this opportunity to better educate myself. Moving forward, I will be more informed and thoughtful.”
Amanda Jetté Knox, Ottawa-based LGBTQ2 rights activist and author of Love Lives Here: a Story of Thriving in a Transgender Family, has a big problem with beliefs like the ones Lopez expressed.
“I worry when I see comments like these. I think Mario Lopez is coming at the issue of trans children from a place of ignorance,” she told Global News.
“Unfortunately, when celebrities and others with large platforms make inaccurate statements, it can be dangerous. Their words carry more weight and can, therefore, cause more harm.”
It’s vital that trans kids and youth receive support from their families. Otherwise, their mental health could suffer.
According to Egale Canada Human Rights Trust, 19 per cent of Canadian trans youth attempted suicide in 2009, while 47 per cent thought about it in 2010.
Adolescent LGBTQ2 youth who have been rejected by their families are over eight times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual and cisgender peers, the website states.
Knox’s daughter, Alexis, came out as trans when she was 11 years old. Inspired by Alexis, Knox’s wife, Zoe, also came out as a trans woman one year later in 2014.
As a unit, they work to normalize LGBTQ2 families.
“Our world is very polarized right now, and it can be scary for trans kids and their parents,” she explained. “But trans kids exist no matter the state of the world, and it’s our job to carve out a safe space for them in it.”
“Don’t deny who your child is,” she said.
“Be a voice for them instead.”
If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help, resources are available. In case of an emergency, please call 911 for immediate help. The Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention, Depression Hurts and Kids Help Phone 1-800-668-6868 all offer ways of getting help if you, or someone you know, may be suffering from mental health issues.
LGBTTQQ2SI individuals can also call the Youth Line at 1-800-268-9688 for confidential, non-judgmental peer support.