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Florida educators challenge College Board, say AP Psych can be taught

Florida's new policy makes teaching certain content on sexual orientation and gender identity illegal.
Florida educators challenge College Board, say AP Psych can be taught
Posted at 6:54 PM, Aug 04, 2023

The Florida Department of Education is responding after recent meeting over concerns that a new policy in Florida would "effectively" ban the state from teaching advanced placement Psychology courses because they would involve lessons on sexual orientation and gender identity illegal.

In a letter obtained by Scripps News, the department thanked staff for meeting about the teaching of AP Psychology for the upcoming school year. 

The department said it is not "discouraging" school districts from teaching the advanced placement courses that would prepare students for college. The Florida Department of Education said that it "believes that AP Psychology can be taught in its entirety in a manner that is age and developmentally appropriate and the course remains listed" in the state's course catalog, the letter said. 

Manny Diaz Jr., the commissioner of education for the department said, "I am sending this letter to you today, out of an abundance of caution, due to the statement on AP Psychology released from College Board on August 3, 2023. College Board has suggested that it might withhold the "AP" designation from this course in Florida, ultimately hurting Florida students."

Diaz Jr. said in the letter, "I want to be clear, AP Psychology is and will remain in the course code directory making it available to Florida students."

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Previously, as Scripps News reported, the College Board, a group that regulates advanced placement courses that prepare high schoolers for college, said new state laws in Florida that govern gender curriculum have "effectively banned AP Psychology in the state."

A Florida policy has been labeled as making the teaching of certain content on sexual orientation and gender identity illegal. 

The College Board said the concepts have been parts of the AP Psychology curriculum for 30 years, and it said it would not alter its defined curriculum to adhere to laws that "would censor college-level standards for credit, placement, and career readiness."

The College Board said, as a result, "any AP Psychology course taught in Florida will violate either Florida law or college requirements. Therefore, we advise Florida districts not to offer AP Psychology until Florida reverses their decision and allows parents and students to choose to take the full course."

The American Psychological Association concurred. It said excluding such fundamental aspects of psychology would leave students poorly prepared for college and for professional settings.

"Educators cannot teach psychology and exclude an entire group of people from the curriculum," said APA CEO Arthur C. Evans Jr., PhD.  "Florida is proposing to remove an important body of science from the AP curriculum and test, which will leave students unprepared to continue studying psychology in college."

The College Board says it will do what it can to support schools in Florida that will now have to respond to the new laws.

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