Such a shift would mean the courses couldn’t be called Advanced Placement, however, or used to earn college credit, the College Board said.
“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 statement reads. “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 they would not alter the 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 DOE’s decision in a conference call Thursday morning. The news could send school districts scrambling if they are required to change students’ schedules just days before the start of a new school year.
More than 28,000 Florida students took AP Psychology last school year, 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.
Gender and sexual orientation have been a part of the AP Psychology curriculum for the past 30 years.
The USA TODAY NETWORK – Florida has reached out to DOE for comment.
Last year, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is running to be the Republican nominee for president, signed HB 1557, a measure officially known as the Parental Rights in Education act but derided by critics 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 this year to 12th grade.
The AP Psychology section under scrutiny 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, the nation’s largest LGBTQ civil rights group, rebuked DOE’s decision on Thursday and issued a statement, 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. Educational systems that reject the inclusion of LGBTQ+ people from their psychology courses are failing in their commitment to students,” said President Kelley Robinson.
And in June, the American Psychological Association supported The College Board’s refusal to edit the class to remove mentions of gender and sexuality.
“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., PhD. “We applaud the College Board for standing up to the state of Florida and its unconscionable demand to censor an educational curriculum and test that were designed by college faculty and experienced AP teachers who ensure that the course and exam reflect the state of the science and college-level expectations.”
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.