SANTA ROSA COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — A school board candidate in Santa Rosa County, Florida publicly stated that doctors who prescribe gender-affirming treatments to transgender children should be hung from trees.

According to a Pensacola News Journal report, Alisabeth Janai Lancaster made the comment during a political forum Monday night.

“These doctors that are going along with mutilating these children and prescribing hormone blockers to these kids, in my opinion, they should be hanging from the nearest tree,” Lancaster said. The statement was reportedly met by applause from the audience.

The “Closing Arguments” forum, held for the county’s conservative-leaning candidates and organized by the Gulf Coast Patriots, was hosted at a Catholic church near downtown Navarre.

Despite school board seats being non-partisan, Lancaster was reportedly endorsed by the Santa Rosa County Republican Executive Committee. The Pensacola News Journal reached out to the committee’s chairman, Rita Gunter, to see if the county Republicans still backed Lancaster, but she declined to comment. Lancaster also did not return the News Journal’s request for comment.

Another Republican candidate present at the forum, however, criticized her comments.

“I’ll always stand on the side of parent’s rights and protecting our kids, but it’s wrong to joke about lynching political opponents,” state Rep. Alex Andrade said in a written statement. “We should never call for the murder of the Americans that disagree with us.”

It is unclear whether or not Lancaster’s comments were intended as “a joke”, as Andrade described. Transgender rights supporters in Northwest Florida stressed the seriousness of Lancaster’s statement.

“I feel like she just said the quiet part of what conservatives believe,” Devin Cole — president of the Socialist Trans Initiative, or STRIVE, a self-described left-wing local advocacy organization that supports transgender people — told the News Journal. “It’s a disgusting and deplorable comment and a reminder that we absolutely have to unite and fight these horrible reactionary people who want to kill us.”

Experts in pediatrics support providing gender-affirming care to transgender children. The Florida chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), an organization of over 67,000 pediatricians, issued a statement in April rejecting new Florida Department of Health guidelines advising doctors not to provide treatments like hormone blockers to transgender children.

joint statement in April 2021 from six major medical associations, including the AAP, stated the following: “Our organizations are strongly opposed to any legislation or regulation that would interfere with the provision of evidence-based patient care for any patient, affirming our commitment to patient safety.”