US TV presenter Mario Lopez has retracted “ignorant” comments he made about children having a choice on gender identity.
The star, best known in the UK for starring as AC Slater in teen sitcom Saved By The Bell in the 1990s, made the remarks in an interview with conservative commentator Candace Owens.
He said he believed it was “dangerous” and “alarming” for parents to honour the wishes of young children who identify with a gender other than the one assigned at birth.
Now, Lopez, who was recently named as a new host of Access Hollywood, has said in a statement released by his publicist that his remarks were “ignorant and insensitive”.
He said the backlash has brought on a “deeper understanding” of how “hurtful” his remarks were.
Lopez’s statement said: “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.”
In her interview, Owens had asked Lopez about “weird trends” in Hollywood and mentioned that actress Charlize Theron had recently said her seven-year-old, Jackson, does not identify as a boy.
Owens described celebrity parents who believe their kids have the “mental authority” to choose a gender as the “new Hollywood mentality”.
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Lopez, who has three children, agreed and added: “I’m never one to tell anyone how to parent their kids, obviously, and I always say if you come from a place of love, you really can’t go wrong.
“But at the same time, my God, if you’re three years old and you’re saying you’re feeling a certain way and you think you’re a boy or girl, whatever the case may be, I just think it’s dangerous as a parent to make that determination then.”
Responding to Lopez’s statement on Twitter, Owens said: “Bullying people into issuing public statements of apology so that they can keep their careers – because they state a FACT – that 3 year olds are not equipped to make life-altering decisions- is why Donald Trump is your President. Leftists are SICK.”