Nikki Haley, a 2024 GOP presidential candidate, took a swipe at potential rival Gov. Ron DeSantis, saying Florida’s law to forbid instruction of sexual orientation and gender identity to children below the fourth grade didn’t go far enough.
The law, which some critics have called the “Don’t Say Gay” law, could use beefing up, Mrs. Haley told an audience Thursday at a town hall event in New Hampshire.
“Basically what it said was you shouldn’t be able to talk about gender before third grade,” said Mrs. Haley, who did not mention Mr. DeSantis by name. “I’m sorry, I don’t think that goes far enough.”
Mrs. Haley’s trip to New Hampshire came one day after formally kicking off her White House bid. The former South Carolina governor and U.N. ambassador is only the second announced presidential candidate vying for the 2024 GOP nomination after former President Donald Trump.
Mr. DeSantis, who was reelected to the governorship in Florida last year by a wide margin, is seen as a likely contender as well. The Florida Republican is known as a fierce culture warrior.
Enacted last year, the measure has been at the center of political controversy. Critics from Florida and across the nation have dubbed it the “Don’t Say Gay” law, arguing it’s “hateful” and targets the LGBT community.
“I want every member of the LGBTQI+ community — especially the kids who will be impacted by this hateful bill — to know that you are loved and accepted just as you are,” President Biden said last year when denouncing the legislation. “I have your back, and my Administration will continue to fight for the protections and safety you deserve.”
Proponents of the law say the backlash has exaggerated the bill and its impact for political gain. Mr. DeSantis has stressed the legislation is meant to ensure that parents and not teachers have the final say when gender identity and sexual orientation are discussed with children.
“We will make sure that parents can send their kids to school to get an education, not an indoctrination,” Mr. DeSantis said when signing the bill.