Students in Florida have effectively been banned from taking AP Psychology because the course includ...
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Florida Students Can No Longer Take AP Psych Because Some Chapters Violate State Law

“Gender and sexual orientation have been part of AP Psychology since the course launched 30 years ago.”

by Kaitlin Kimont

Students in Florida have effectively been banned from taking AP Psychology because the course includes chapters on sexual orientation and gender identity. Florida’s Department of Education notified the College Board, the nonprofit that oversees the Advanced Placement (AP) program, that those lessons are now illegal to teach under state law.

Technically, schools can still teach the AP course, but only if content on sexuality and gender are excluded. The College Board, however, said those lessons are “essential” to the class and students wouldn’t be able to earn college credit from the course if those chapters are omitted. As such, the organization is urging school districts to not offer the course at all until Florida reverses its decision.

“The AP course asks students to ‘describe how sex and gender influence socialization and other aspects of development.’ This element of the framework is not new: gender and sexual orientation have been part of AP Psychology since the course launched 30 years ago,” the College Board said in a statement on Thursday.

“We cannot modify AP Psychology in response to regulations that would censor college-level standards for credit, placement, and career readiness. Our policy remains unchanged. Any course that censors required course content cannot be labeled ‘AP’ or ‘Advanced Placement,’ and the ‘AP Psychology’ designation cannot be utilized on student transcripts,” the statement continued. “To be clear, any AP Psychology course taught in Florida will violate either Florida law or college requirements. 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.”

Last year, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the Parental Rights in Education bill into law, which “prohibits classroom instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity in kindergarten through 3rd grade and prohibits instruction that is not age appropriate for students.” And this past April, the Florida Board of Education voted to extend that rule to include all grades in K-12 public schools.

In response, the College Board said in June that it would not modify its courses or restrict teaching materials to abide by the new Florida laws. “Doing so would break the fundamental promise of AP: colleges wouldn’t broadly accept that course for credit and that course wouldn’t prepare students for careers in the discipline,” the organization said at the time. “The learning objective within AP Psychology that covers gender and sexual orientation has specifically been raised by some Florida districts relative to these recent regulations. That learning objective must remain a required topic, just as it has been in Florida for many years.”

On Thursday, Florida’s Department of Education told CNN in a statement that it has not “banned” students from taking AP Psychology. “The course remains listed in Florida’s Course Code Directory for the 2023-24 school year,” the department said. “We encourage the College Board to stop playing games with Florida students and continue to offer the course and allow teachers to operate accordingly.”

The American Psychological Association (APA) has previously backed the College Board’s decision to not alter the content of the AP course. “Understanding human sexuality is fundamental to psychology, and an advanced placement course that excludes the decades of science studying sexual orientation and gender identity would deprive students of knowledge they will need to succeed in their studies, in high school and beyond,” APA CEO Arthur C. Evans Jr., PhD. said in a statement.

“Educators cannot teach psychology and exclude an entire group of people from the curriculum,” Evans added. “Florida is proposing to remove an important body of science from the AP curriculum and test, which will leave students unprepared to continue studying psychology in college. This law is yet another attempt to erase LGBTQ+ people from public view based on biased thinking and irrational fear. Our youth need access to age-appropriate, evidence-based information regarding sexual orientation and gender identity so that they may grow up to be healthy, informed and well-adjusted citizens.”