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Nikki Haley: Florida's 'Don't Say Gay' Not Homophobic Enough

Nikki Haley: Florida's 'Don't Say Gay' Not Homophobic Enough

Republican Nikki Haley
Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

In a troubling sign, the Republican presidential candidate positions herself to the right of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Stumping for votes in her long-shot bid for the Republican 2024 presidential nomination, former South Carolina governor and United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley is trying to prove she's just as anti-LGBTQ+ as Florida governor Ron DeSantis, one of her likely challengers for the GOP nod.

When asked about DeSantis's divisive Parental Rights in Education law (a.k.a. the "don't say gay" law), which bans discussion of gender and sexual orientation in kindergarten through third grade, Haley told a crowd at a New Hampshire town hall that the legislation is too timid.

“Basically, what it said was you shouldn’t be able to talk about gender before third grade,” Haley said at the Exeter gathering, according to The Hill. “I’m sorry, I don’t think that goes far enough. When I was in school you didn’t have sex ed until seventh grade. And even then, your parents had to sign whether you could take the class. That’s a decision for parents to make.”

Proving that Haley is ready to make LGBTQ+ youth a target in her campaign, the politician gave an interview to after the town hall, elaborating on her desire to make the mention of gay and transgender people verboten in elementary schools.

“I think Ron’s been a good governor. I just think that third grade’s too young,” Haley said. “We should not be talking to kids in elementary school about gender, period. And if you are going to talk to kids about it, you need to get the parents’ permission to do that. That is something between a parent and a child. That is not something that schools need to be teaching.”

Besides banning discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity through third grade, the Parental Rights in Education law requires “age-appropriate” handling of the matters throughout grade school. Critics argue it also could lead to educators having to out students in non-supportive homes by disclosing to parents when children come out as LGBTQ in school but not at home.

Haley's record on LGBTQ+ issues is abysmal. As noted by GLAAD, Haley has said President Joe Biden’s support of transgender rights will destroy women’s sports, saying, “Across the sporting world, the game is being rigged against women and in favor of biological men.” She also opposed marriage equality as both South Carolina state representative and governor. Additionally, she rejected matching funds for a program offering HIV medication to lower-income patients.

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