Lopez Apologizes for Saying Toddlers Should Not Choose Their Gender

mario lopez

TV personality Mario Lopez has recently been slammed in the media for saying that parents should not allow three-year-olds to determine their own gender identities. Apart from the ramifications of such gender neutral parenting, what is striking about the controversy is how people have twisted Lopez’s words, the pressure he has faced to apologize for saying them, and how quickly he in fact did so.

“Look, 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,” said Lopez in an interview with conservative commentator Candace Owens. “But at the same time, my God, if you’re three years old and you’re saying you’re feeling a certain way or you think you’re a boy or a girl, whatever the case may be, I just think it’s dangerous as a parent to make that determination then.”

Mario Lopez on The Candace Owens Show

About 11 minutes into the 40-minute long interview, Owens asked Lopez for his thoughts on what she sees as a “weird trend” of parents letting their young children be the ones to voice what their gender is. As an example, Owens mentioned actress Charlize Theron who recently said she was raising her three-year-old son Jackson as a girl because he had told her, “I am not a boy!” 

While Owens is not a parent herself, she said she nannied for five years, and during that time, kids told her that they could fly or that they were mermaids. She does not believe little children have the “mental authority” to come to conclusions about their gender or sexuality. Owens also mentioned that she went through a tomboy phase for a year before hitting puberty and expressed how confusing it would have been if her parents had concluded from that behavior that she wanted to identify as a boy. Lopez, who hosts the entertainment news show Extra and has professed faith in Jesus, agreed with Owens, saying, “It’s sort of alarming” and “I just think about the repercussions later on.” 

Turning Up the Heat

One E! News commentator interpreted Lopez’s words as him saying it was “‘dangerous’ for parents to support children who identify as transgender.” However, at no point during the comments media outlets are quoting did Lopez say he thought transgenderism was wrong or even that he had a binary view of gender. In fact, while he said that three years old was “way too young” for children to be evaluating their sexuality, he implied it is good for them to do so later: “I think the formative years is really when you start having those discussions and really start making these declarations.”

Lopez also said during the interview that even when he disagrees with someone else’s parenting decisions, he sees the people making those decisions as “good people” coming from a “good place.” He did not want to intrude on anyone else’s parenting style, but rather concern himself with “Casa Lopez.”

As Lopez’s comments gained media attention, GLAAD quickly put the heat on Extra and posted this tweet:

GLAAD also commented, “We spoke with Extra and it is clear that the showrunners do not support or share his view. They will address this issue on the show tonight. Lopez clearly needs a primer on trans issues. We reached out to his team to see if and how he will correct the record.”

Lopez ended up being absent from that Extra taping, and the two hosts who were present spent time interviewing GLAAD’s director and a doctor who works in the field of trans youth development. Extra’s producers also issued a statement saying, “While we have enjoyed a long relationship with Mario Lopez, who we know to be a caring person, the opinions he expressed in this interview do not reflect those of Extra. We wholeheartedly embrace our friends from the LGBTQ community and believe they need support and love. For more support on these issues you can go to GLAAD.org.”

Walking It Back 

Lopez has since apologized for his remarks. In a statement that he issued to several news outlets, he 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.”

Some are lamenting how quickly Lopez caved to the pressure. Candace Owens tweeted that he was bullied into his apology so he could keep his career. Another Twitter user asked, “It’s backwards thinking to allow 3 year olds to make life changing decision [sic]?”

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Jessica Mouser
Jessica Mouser is a writer for ChurchLeaders.com. She has always had a passion for the written word and has been writing professionally for the past two years. She especially enjoys evaluating how various beliefs play out within culture. When Jessica isn't writing, she enjoys playing the piano, reading, and spending time with her friends and family.