Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley used a leftist slur Wednesday evening to describe a Florida bill that bans classroom discussions of gender and sexuality for children.

At a presidential debate, Haley responded Wednesday to criticism from Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis about her remarks made to “CBS Mornings” back in June.

“It wasn’t about the parents’ rights in education bill. It was about prohibiting sex-change operations on minors,” DeSantis said. “They do puberty blockers, they do irreversible—talk to [detransitioner] Chloe Cole; she went through this.”

“That is what Nikki Haley opposed,” the Florida governor added. “She said the law shouldn’t get involved in that, and I just ask you, if you’re somebody who’s going to be president of the United States, and you can’t stand up against child abuse, how are you going to be able to stand up for anything?”

Haley disputed DeSantis’ characterization, bringing up Florida’s HB 1557, the Parental Rights in Education Bill, which has drawn heavy fire from LGBTQ advocates, liberal media, and Democrats.

“I never said that,” she responded. “I said that if you have to be 18 to get a tattoo, you should have to be 18 to have anything done to change your gender.”

“You said the law should stay out of it,” DeSantis responded.

During the June interview, Haley criticized pro-transgender policies that allow “biological boys” who identify as girls in girls’ sports locker rooms. Yet, the interviewer asked her, “What care should be on the table when a 12-year-old child in this country assigned female at birth says, ‘Actually, I feel more comfortable living as a boy’?” He asked if the law should allow that.

“Well, I think the law should stay out of it,” Haley said. “This is a job for the parents to handle.”

She went on to criticize the idea that kids should undergo permanent changes before they turn 18. She also emphasized that schools should not “go in and force things” on the issue.

Haley has previously criticized the idea that children should be allowed to undergo experimental transgender medical interventions before they turn 18.

“I actually said his ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill didn’t go far enough,” she said.

Nowhere in the Florida legislation is the word “gay” ever mentioned. The word “parent” is mentioned 32 times and the word “parental” is mentioned seven times, and the bill, which DeSantis signed into law, focuses on parental notification and parental awareness of what their kids are being taught or exposed to in school.


Have an opinion about this article? To sound off, please email, and we’ll consider publishing your edited remarks in our regular “We Hear You” feature. Remember to include the URL or headline of the article plus your name and town and/or state.