How are Lee and Collier school districts handling AP Psychology “ban”? One keeps the class

Naples Daily News | By Nikki Ross | August 17, 2023

This school year, Lee and Collier county school districts are addressing Advanced Placement Psychology, which was “effectively banned” this month, in drastically different ways.

Just before the start of school last week, Florida superintendents were advised by the state to drop their AP Psychology classes unless they exclude any topics related to gender or sexuality, according to The College Board, which oversees the AP program.

While the Collier County School District is altering lesson plans to keep AP Psychology, the Lee County School District removed the course altogether.

Gender and sexual orientation have been a part of the AP Psychology curriculum for the past 30 years, according to The College Board.

Excluding those topics would mean they aren’t truly Advanced Placement classes nor could they be used by students to earn college credit, the College Board said. And the organization is advising Florida districts not to offer the classes until the state reverses its decision, saying any AP Psychology course taught in Florida will violate either state law or college requirements.

But that isn’t stopping the Collier County School District from keeping the class. This school year, 299 students are enrolled in AP Psychology.

“CCPS will provide our AP Psychology teachers with lesson plans that support both Florida law and also meet the course requirements as outlined from The College Board,” said district spokesman Chadwick Oliver.

Last year, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law the Parental Rights in Education act that has been dubbed by opponents as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. The law outlawed instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity in kindergarten through third grade. This spring, the law was expanded to 12th grade.

The portion of AP Psychology in question is unit 6.7, which discusses gender and sexuality and includes the definitions of gender, sexuality, gender roles and stereotypes and their socialization factors.

In order to comply with state laws, the Lee County School District removed the course entirely.

Superintendent Christopher Bernier said all students previously enrolled in AP Psychology were given the option to take either Advanced International Certificate of Education (AICE) Cambridge or International Baccalaureate (IB) Psychology classes.

“We have very few students who are actually enrolled in AP. Since we can’t teach the whole class, and we don’t want our students caught between the state, their school district and AP, we’re asking those students to make a schedule choice into either AICE Cambridge psychology or into the IB class,” Bernier said. “Both of those organizations have opened up the opportunity for our teachers to be able to teach it.”

Similar to AP, AICE Cambridge and IB classes can give students college credit. Depending on the college, they can receive credit for just taking the class or they get credit when they receive the AICE Cambridge or IB diploma.

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