Dear Commons Community,
The College Board announced yesterday that Florida school districts should no longer offer Advanced Placement Psychology, one of the most popular A.P. courses, the latest skirmish in its battle with the state’s Department of Education over how to teach race, gender and sexual orientation.
The College Board, the nonprofit that oversees advanced placement courses and the SAT, revoked its support for A.P. Psychology in Florida, saying it would not abide by the state’s demand to remove a longstanding section on gender and sexual orientation.
Florida superintendents were advised yesterday by the state to nix their Advanced Placement Psychology classes unless they exclude any topics related to gender or sexuality, according to The College Board, which oversees the AP program.
Such a shift would mean the courses couldn’t be called Advanced Placement, however, or used by students to earn college credit, the College Board said. And the organization is advising Florida districts not to offer the class until the state reverses its decision, saying any AP Psychology course taught in Florida will violate either state law or college requirements. As reported by The New York Times and USA Today.
“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. “The state has said districts are free to teach AP Psychology only if it excludes any mention of these essential topics.”
In June, the College Board said it would not alter the popular AP Psychology class after the state asked the organization to review all AP courses to see if they “need modification to ensure compliance” with a Florida law and state Board of Education rule targeting instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Florida’s school superintendents learned of the state education department’s decision in a conference call yesterday morning. The news means school districts may have to quickly rejigger many students’ schedules just days before the start of a new school year. This fall, about 30,000 students were enrolled to take the course statewide, the College Board said.
“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,” said the nonprofit, which also administers the SAT.
The state education agency in a statement blamed the last-minute change on the College Board’s refusal to comply with Florida law, saying the organization was forcing school districts to prevent students from taking the class.
“The Department didn’t ‘ban’ the course,” Deputy Director of Communications Cassie Palelis wrote. The class is still listed in Florida’s Course Code Directory for the 2023-2024 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,” she said. “The other advanced course providers (including the International Baccalaureate program) had no issue providing the college credit psychology course.”
In the state capital of Tallahassee, a spokesperson for Leon County Schools said the district planned to offer the class at all six of its high schools this fall, and as of Thursday, 381 students were set to take the course.
More than 28,000 Florida students at 562 schools in Florida took AP Psychology last school year, the College Board said. Noah Summerlin, a rising senior at Leon High School, was one of them.
“High school students, by and large, are capable of higher thought and rational decision-making,” he added. “By excluding the fields of
Gender and sexual orientation have been a part of the AP Psychology curriculum for the past 30 years, according to The College Board.
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.
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) , the nation’s largest LGBTQ civil rights group, blasted the state’s decision, calling the move a “disturbing” attempt to rewrite history.
“College Board’s AP Psychology curriculum is science-driven and endorsed by both educators and experts,” HRC President Kelley Robinson said. “Educational systems that reject the inclusion of LGBTQ+ people from their psychology courses are failing in their commitment to students.”
The American Psychological Association also expressed disappointment, calling the loss of course in Florida an “enormous disservice” to students.
“Requiring what is effectively censored educational material does an enormous disservice to students across Florida, who will receive an incomplete picture of the psychological research into human development,” APA CEO Arthur C. Evans Jr., said. “An Advanced Placement course that ignores 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.”
College Board’s AP African American Studies class, alleging it violated state law because of topics such as Black Lives Matter, Black feminism and reparations.
Florida’s “Stop WOKE Act” restricts how race is discussed in schools, colleges and workplaces and prohibits any teaching that could make students feel they bear personal responsibility for historic wrongs because of their race, color, sex or national origin.
The AP class still has not been approved to be taught in Florida.
Ban the books, ban subject matter, ban free thought!