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WATCH: Rick Santorum Says Support for Trans Youth Encourages 'Gender Confusion'

Rick Santorum

Support for transgender youth, in Rick Santorum’s mind, introduces dangerous “gender confusion” to children and even encourages it, the Republican presidential hopeful told a conservative talk show host Tuesday.

On The Steve Malzberg Show, which runs on right-wing outlet Newsmax TV, the host mentioned the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (which residents voted Tuesday to repeal after opponents ran a campaign casting transgender people as predators) and a Department of Education ruling that a suburban Chicago school district had discriminated against a transgender high-school girl by denying her access to facilities designated for females. “Is this totally out of hand?” Malzberg asked Santorum, after referring to the Illinois youth as “a boy” and trans people as “transgenders.”

“I don’t know why children at that age — why this is even an issue, the idea that we are introducing this type of real dangerous confusion for young people at this early age,” Santorum replied. “Do we really care about what we’re doing to millions of children who don’t have gender confusion and basically introducing the subject and saying, ‘Maybe you should, maybe this is something you should start thinking about at age 7.’ I mean, this is really dangerous, and it’s going too far because it is having an impact on not just folks who may be in a difficult situation at an early age but many who would never have been in that situation but now are being confronted with it.”

Santorum, a former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania, is a longtime opponent of LGBT equality, but some on the right apparent consider him insufficiently anti-trans, as he had to backpedal earlier this year after expressing support for Caitlyn Jenner. “If he says he’s a woman, then he’s a woman,” Santorum said at a conservative conference in Iowa in May, shortly after Jenner came out as a transgender woman (but was still going by Bruce and using male pronouns). “My responsibility as a human being is to love and accept everybody. Not to criticize people for who they are.”

About a week later, on a New Hampshire radio show, Santorum “clarified” his comments. “If Bruce Jenner says he’s a woman, then I’m not going to argue with him,” the candidate said. “I know what obviously and biologically he is. That doesn’t change by himself identifying himself. His genetics and DNA isn’t changing, but out of respect, as you said, I’m not going to argue if Bruce Jenner’s a woman with Bruce Jenner. I’m going to treat him with dignity and respect, and that’s what I said.”

Watch a clip from The Steve Malzberg Show below, courtesy of Right Wing Watch.

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