Doug Mastriano, the Republican candidate for governor of Pennsylvania, says it is “disgusting” that the state is directing its agencies to discourage the scientifically discredited practice of “conversion therapy.”
Mastriano appeared on Thursday 103.7 FM, a conservative talk radio station in the southern tier of the state. Speaking to host Michele Jansen, Mastriano criticized Gov. Tom Wolf and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Josh Shapiro for opposing the practice, which seeks to change one’s gender or sexual identity and has been associated with increased suicide attempts and depression among LGBTQ people.
Wolf recently issued an executive order directing state agencies to update LGBTQ policies, promote practices supported by the scientific and medical communities, and ensure that state resources do not go toward conversion therapy. Shapiro, Pennsylvania’s current attorney general, supports the directive.
Mastriano, who is also a member of the Pennsylvania state Senate, was not happy with their attitude.
“This is disgusting to me, where bureaucrats and Tom Wolfe — and Josh Shapiro — think it’s okay to come and threaten parents and therapists because their kids might get confused,” he told Jansen.
Although conversion therapy has been rejected by every major mental health organization, Mastriano appeared not only to defend the practice, but to double down on the idea that LGBTQ kids are just “messed up.”
He went on to blame this supposed confusion on teachers, claiming that schools “have graphic pornographic books.”
Jansen also indicated that she was also against Wolf’s executive order, saying that the LGBTQ movement is “an activist, political, ideological group. It is not an ethnicity. It is not a community of people.”
Mastriano’s views on conversion therapy contrast sharply with those of his opponent.
“As Governor, I will pass nondiscrimination in Pennsylvania, ban conversion therapy practices for minors, and invest in mental health resources for youth.” Shapiro wrote on Twitter in May, adding that “LGBTQ+ rights are human rights.” Polls show Shapiro leading in the governor’s race as the November election approaches.
Mastriano, meanwhile, is a leading figure in the Christian nationalist movement, which maintains that the US is a Christian country.
He also organized buses for former President Donald Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally before the Capitol Hill riot on Jan. 6. The video shows Mastriano approaching the Capitol that day, though he has said he never entered. However, Mastriano was subpoenaed by the House committee investigating the attack on the building.
This week’s remarks fit a pattern of statements by the GOP nominee. When asked in 2018 if he believed same-sex marriage should be legal, he answered, “No way.” He has also said that gay couples she should not be able to adopt childrenand that it is “insanityto include gender identity in federal anti-discrimination laws.
Despite his history of hate speech, Mastriano removed a video of Thursday’s comments from his Facebook page, where he had live-streamed the radio interview. Previously, Mastriano also deleted videos in which he referred to climate change as mere “theory” and abortion as “baby-killing,” The Philadelphia Inquirer reported in July.
His latest remarks come amid renewed legislative attacks on LGBTQ people by the Republican Party, with a flurry of proposed laws across the country targeting the community — including measures that would limit what teachers can say in class and groups in which transgender children can play. school.
Mastriano’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment by press time.
If you or someone you know needs help, call 988 or call 1-800-273-8255 for National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can also get text message support by visiting suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat. Outside US please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database of resources.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.