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Florida effectively bans AP Psychology for gender, sex content: College Board

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(TALLAHASSEE, Fla.) — 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,” College Board announced Thursday.

In June, the College Board reported that it was asked by the Florida Department of Education Office of Articulation to potentially modify its courses to suit Florida law and exclude topics of gender and sexual orientation. College Board refused, saying it cannot modify courses in ways “that would censor college-level standards for credit, placement, and career readiness.”

According to College Board, the AP course asks students to “describe how sex and gender influence socialization and other aspects of development.” College Board said that sexual orientation and gender have been an element of the coursework since the AP course was launched 30 years ago.

Florida officials allegedly told state school districts that the course could be taught, but only without these topics, according to College Board. But without this required course content, the organization said the course cannot be labeled “AP” or “Advanced Placement” and the “AP Psychology” designation can’t be used on school transcripts.

The American Psychological Association and the American Council of Education stood by College Board’s policy and decision in a June statement.

“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,” said APA CEO Arthur C. Evans Jr., in the statement.

“It strains credulity to believe that our reviewers would certify for college credit a psychology course that didn’t include gender identity,” said American Council of Education president Ted Mitchell in the College Board statement.

The Florida Department of Education denied it banned the course in a statement to ABC News.

“The Department didn’t “ban” the course. 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,” Cassie Palelis, Deputy Director of Communications for the Florida Department of Education, said in a statement.

“The other advanced course providers (including the International Baccalaureate program) had no issue providing the college credit psychology course,” she added.

Several state policies have impacted the teaching of certain topics in Florida public schools.

The Florida Department of Education passed a rule in April which states that in grades 4 through 12, instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity is prohibited “unless such instruction is either expressly required by state academic standards … or is part of a reproductive health course or health lesson for which a student’s parent has the option to have his or her student not attend,” according to the amendment.

The “Stop WOKE” Act restricts race-related curriculum and programs in workplaces and schools. College Board’s AP African American studies course was rejected by the state education department and called “inexplicably contrary to Florida law and significantly lacks educational value” by a Florida DOE official.

This is the latest effort from Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration in its war on “woke”-ness, or marginalized identities, in education.

“We seek normalcy, not philosophical lunacy, we will not allow reality, facts and truth to become optional. We will never surrender to the woke mob. Florida is where woke goes to die,” DeSantis said during his Jan. 3 inauguration.

More than 28,000 Florida students took AP Psychology in the 2022-23 academic year, according to College Board. Tens of thousands of students will be impacted by the state’s decision, the organization states.

“The AP Program will do all we can do to support schools in their plans for responding to this late change,” the announcement read.

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