Writer Nicholas Sparks apologized for anti-gay comments he made in 2013 regarding the creation of an LGBTQ club at a prep school he co-founded in North Carolina.

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“As someone who has spent the better part of my life as a writer who understands the power of words, I regret and apologize that mine have potentially hurt young people and members of the LGBTQ community, including my friends and colleagues in that community,” he wrote in a statement shared to Twitter.

“l was responding heatedly to how the headmaster had gone about initiating this club — like most schools, Epiphany has procedures and policies for establishing any student club,” The Notebook author continued. “My concern was that if a club were to be founded, it be done in a thoughtful, transparent manner with the knowledge of faculty, students and parents – not in secret, and not in a way that felt exceptional. I only wish I had used those exact words. Similarly, when I referred to a prior headmaster addressing the presence of gay students ‘quietly and wonderfully,’ I meant that he supported them in a straightforward, unambiguous way — NOT that he in any way encouraged students to be silent about their gender identity or sexual orientation.”

“I believe in the school’s founding principle of loving God and thy neighbor as thyself, and that includes members of the LGBTQ community. I believe in and unreservedly support the principle that all individuals should be free to love, marry and have children with the person they choose, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation. This is and has always been a core value of mine. I am an unequivocal supporter of gay marriage, gay adoption, and equal employment rights and would never want to discourage any young person or adult from embracing who they are,” he added.

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Sparks is locked in a legal battle over the matter with Saul Benjamin, the former headmaster of the Epiphany School of Global Studies which Sparks co-founded in 2006.

Emails show the best-selling romance novelist, 53, adamantly prohibiting an LGBTQ club at the school, and defending his decision as one that isn’t discriminatory.

“Not allowing them admittance is discrimination. Not allowing them to have a club is NOT discrimination,” he wrote in November 2013. “Also, remember, we’ve had gay students before, many of them. [A former headmaster] handled it quietly and wonderfully, and the students considered themselves fortunate. I expect you to do the same.”

Sparks, who has written 11 best-selling romance novels that have been adapted into Hollywood films, also chastised Benjamin for “rocking the boat” with his “agenda.”

“Understand that many people now perceive you as having an agenda with which they disagree. Again, you chose to rock this boat too early and hard, not only with Chapel changes, but with what some perceive as an agenda that strives to make homosexuality open and accepted,” he wrote.

In his initial response, Sparks called the allegations “false,” adding, “Since 2014, I have vigorously been defending the lawsuit brought against me and the Epiphany School of Global Studies by its former headmaster, Saul Benjamin. The article appearing in today’s The Daily Beast is not news, and repeats false accusations and claims made against Epiphany and me, and largely ignores the overwhelming evidence we have submitted to the Court.”

He further claimed that “the Court has dismissed nearly every claim against me, my Foundation and Epiphany.”

Meanwhile, Benjamin’s attorney said the following in a statement: “The emails written by Nicholas Sparks speak for themselves. Despite Mr. Sparks’s attempts to downplay his discriminatory actions, he does not get to decide what is or isn’t ‘news.’ We look forward to vindicating Mr. Benjamin’s rights at trial in August.”