Florida bans AP psychology over gender identity, sexual orientation lessons, College Board says

South Florida Sun Sentinel |By Leslie Postal | August 3, 2023

Florida will not allow public school students to take Advanced Placement psychology because the course includes lessons on sexual orientation and gender identity, topics forbidden by the state, the College Board said Thursday.

If so, that would mean that a week before school starts in many districts, about 27,000 statewide may not be able to take a class they signed up to tackle in the 2023-24 school year.

“We are sad to have learned that today the Florida Department of Education has effectively banned AP Psychology in the state by instructing Florida superintendents that teaching foundational content on sexual orientation and gender identity is illegal under state law,” the College Board said in a statement.

The organization runs the 40-course AP program, which aims to offer high school students introductory college courses. Last school year, nearly 27,000 Florida students took AP psychology, which has been offered in the state since 1993.

According to the College Board, the Florida Department of Education told school superintendents they could offer AP psychology only if lessons on sexual orientation and gender identity were omitted. But the College Board said those are part of the class and, if deleted, the course will not be able to carry the AP designation.

“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. As we shared in June, we cannot modify AP Psychology in response to regulations that would censor college-level standards for credit, placement, and career readiness.”

In May, Florida asked the College Board to review all its courses to make sure they comply with Florida law, which because of new laws and rules, prohibits teaching about sexual orientation and gender identity as well as certain race-related topics.

In June, the College Board told the state it would not alter the AP psychology course, which had been taught at 562 Florida high schools.

” 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 College Board said in its Thursday statement.

The Florida Department of Education has not responded to emailed questions about the course sent Thursday and earlier this week.

The class is popular across the state and region.

Local school administrators have said they were waiting for state guidance before making a final decision on whether to offer the class. They expected to hear that decision on Monday during a meeting for school superintendents and then when that meeting was canceled they thought it would come Thursday.

“We have heard from teachers across Florida who are heartbroken that they are being forced to drop AP and instead teach alternatives that have been deemed legal because the courses exclude these topics,” the College Board said.

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