Florida DOE battles with College Board over AP Psychology curriculum

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Tensions continue to build in Florida over what should and shouldn’t be taught in schools. The College Board claims the state effectively banned an Advanced Placement psychology course because it covers topics like sexual orientation and gender identity. As a result, the College Board is advising school superintendents to pause the course offerings. 

However, the Florida Department of Education responded, saying, “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.”

The DOE further advised all school superintendents in a letter that the International Baccalaureate, a competitor of the college board, will offer a psychology course in Florida for the 2023 school year.

ap psych
Letter to superintendents CREDIT WINK News

But the College Board said any course censoring required content cannot be labeled as “AP” or “Advanced Placement,” and the “AP Psychology” designation cannot be utilized on student transcripts.

Ultimately, the AP course asks students to “describe how sex and gender influence socialization and other aspects of development.” However, Florida’s state education board voted in April to ban teaching students about sexual orientation and gender identity through high school. Therefore, the course as is does not comply with state statute.

“We feel like a decision to exclude content related to sexual orientation and gender diversity will be presenting students with an incomplete psychology course,” said Catherine Grus, Chief Education Officer of the American Psychology Association, an organization that publicly supports the College Board’s decision.

The College Board said more than 28,000 Florida students took AP psych in 2022. Now, close to the start of the 2023 school year, a similar number of students may face changes to their schedules.

“I also am concerned what this could potentially mean for the future of students getting psychology degrees and perhaps going on to be psychologists in the state of Florida,” Grus said. “We don’t want to narrow the number of people who get interested in studying psychology, we want to broaden that.”

WINK News also spoke with Landon Frim, an associate professor of philosophy and religious studies at Florida Gulf Coast University. He said he took the course in high school, and gender and sexual orientation are fundamental parts of the class.

“One cannot meaningfully offer that course, without dealing with the full dimension of human existence. And that includes sexuality and gender,” Frim said.

WINK News reached out to Charlotte, Lee and Collier County Schools for more information. Only Collier County responded, saying the superintendent continues to look at alternative options for their students.

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