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Over the weekend, Ne-Yo appeared in an interview with Gloria Velez for VladTV in which they criticized parents for allowing their children to have a say in their own gender identity from a young age. Shortly after, the musician issued a statement: “After much reflection, I’d like to express my deepest apologies to anyone that I may have hurt with my comments on parenting and gender identity.” Now, after a little more reflection, Ne-Yo has decided to walked back his apology. “This shit is getting out of hand,” he wrote on Instagram. “I will not be bullied into apologizing for having an opinion.”

The singer shared a video recorded in his car in which he stated that he wanted his stance to be made clear “from the horse’s mouth, not the publicist’s computer.” Over the duration of the 2-minute long upload, he attempted to justify his opinion on the matter by stating that he is currently raising five sons and two daughters. “I was asked a question, and I answered the damn question. I have no beef with the LBGTQIA+ community whatsoever,” he said. “Do what you want to do with your kids. However, somebody asked my opinion on this matter, and this is how I feel. I will never be okay with allowing a child to make a decision that is detrimental to their life.”

In his caption, he wrote: “If one of my 7 kids were to decide that he or she wanted to be something other than what they were born as, once they’re old enough and mature enough to make that decision… so be it. Not gonna love em’ any less … But this isn’t even a discussion until they are mentally mature enough to have such a discussion.”

Ne-Yo’s youngest child is four months old, while his oldest is 12.

During the original interview, Ne-Yo crafted hypothetical scenarios about gender identity, including one in which he stated: “If your little boy comes to you and says, ‘Daddy, I want to be a girl.’ And you just let him rock with that? He’s 5 … If you let this 5-year-old boy decide to eat candy all day, he’s gonna do that … He can’t drive a car yet, but he can decide his sex?”

He added: “I just personally come from an era where a man was a man and a woman was a woman. And there was two genders, and that’s just how I rocked. You could identify as a goldfish if you feel like, I don’t care. That ain’t my business. It becomes my business when you try to make me play the game with you. I’m not gonna call you a goldfish. But if you wanna be a goldfish, you go be a goldfish.”

And while he revoked his initial apology and also issued something of a non-apology, he maintained the portion of the statement that committed him to better educating himself on the topic of gender identity. But he made it clear that he has his mind made up already.

“I definitely plan to educate myself a little bit on this matter,” he stated in the video. “However, I doubt that there’s any book anywhere, or any opinion that someone’s gonna tell me, that’s gonna make me okay with letting a child make a decision like that. That’s just period point blank and that’s how I feel. If I get cancelled for this, then you know what? Maybe this is a world where they don’t need a Ne-Yo no more.”

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But this conversation is larger than books and opinions. Across the country, anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination has targeted children and teenagers for their identity as well as their parents and families for banding together to protect them. To ensure that their children aren’t harmed, these families have limited their communication to member-only Facebook groups and meetings at undisclosed locations — in secret, these online whisper networks provide guidance for parents and support for their kids.

“Sometimes their kids find friends out of those connections with other trans kids that have been through it,” Allie, a mom who helps moderate a private support group for Texas trans youth and their families, told Rolling Stone last year. “It’s lonely and overwhelming, but when you’re fighting for your kid, you don’t really have much of an option.”

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