AP Psychology is now 'effectively banned' in Florida schools following the state's 'Don't Say Gay' law, College Board says

The College Board said Florida’s rules restricting the teaching of gender identity issues “effectively banned” an advanced high-school psychology course that the non-profit administers.

“To be clear, any AP Psychology course taught in Florida will violate either Florida law or college requirements,” the College Board in a statement on Thursday. “Therefore, we advise Florida districts not to offer AP Psychology until Florida reverses their decision and allows parents and students to choose to take the full course.”

The Florida Department of Education is requiring schools omit discussion regarding gender and sexual identity if they teach its Advanced Placement Psychology course, according to the board. Under the group’s policy, censored curriculum does not qualify for the AP designation. The College Board earlier this year drew ire from Florida Governor Ron DeSantis over its AP African American History course.

The College Board says sex and gender topics have been part of the AP Psychology coursework since the course was launched 30 years ago.  The curriculum notes that students should be able to “describe how sex and gender influence socialization and other aspects of development.” A spokesperson for the College Board said that the coursework doesn’t dictate how teachers present the topics. 

The Florida Department of Education rejects the College Board’s claim, Cassie Palelis, a spokesperson for the department, said in an email, noting other providers still offer college credit for the course.

“The Department didn’t ‘ban’ the course,” she said. “The course remains listed in Florida’s Course Code Directory for the 2023-24 school year. We encourage the College Board to stop playing games with Florida students and continue to offer the course and allow teachers to operate accordingly.”

High-school teachers are being instructed to follow Florida’s controversial Parental Rights in Education Law, which limits discussion regarding gender identity and sexual orientation. The regulation — known by critics as the “Don’t Say Gay” law — was expanded in April to include students in kindergarten through grade 12. Proponents for the law say it gives parents greater oversight to what their children are learning, while critics say it harms LGBTQ+ students and teachers in particular.

State Representative Anna Eskamani, a Democrat, decried the loss of AP Psychology for the state’s high school students. “This is a terrible decision that is 100% politically motivated and one that will rob our students of a well-rounded and college ready public education experience,” Eskamani said in a statement.

In February, the College Board unveiled a framework for its AP African American History course, which DeSantis had previously criticized. A group of more than 800 African American Studies professors and other educations criticized the governor for his comments surrounding the course.

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