College Board shelves AP psychology class in Florida over guidance on gender content

The American Psychological Association said the state's policy means students will receive an incomplete education.

The College Board says schools in Florida should not offer its Advanced Placement course in psychology to students, citing guidance from state officials to exclude content on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The call to shelve the course marks the College Board’s latest clash with the administration of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican who has pushed to regulate how schools deal with subjects such as race and gender.

Protest for educational freedom in Florida
Protest for educational freedom was held Tuesday morning, Feb. 28, 2023, on the liberal arts campus of New College of Florida. Students expressed outrage at the attacks on gender studies, transgender students, and the LGBTQ+ community on campus. (Photo by © THOMAS BENDER/HERALD-TRIBUNE / USA TODAY NETWORK)

“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 in a statement Thursday.

Florida’s Department of Education rejected the assertion that it had banned 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 department said in a statement.

Under an expanded Florida law, lessons on sexual orientation and gender identity are banned unless required by existing state standards or as part of reproductive health instruction that students can choose not to take. In the spring the state asked the College Board and other providers of college-level courses to review their offerings for potential violations.

The College Board, a nonprofit that administers the SAT and Advanced Placement tests, said it would not modify its psychology course, which asks students to describe how sex and gender influence a person’s development. It said gender and sexual orientation have been part of its psychology course since it launched 30 years ago.

The American Psychological Association said the state’s policy means students will receive an incomplete education.

“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,” said Arthur Evans Jr., CEO of the association.

In April, the College Board said it would revamp its Advanced Placement African American studies course following criticism that it watered down curriculum on slavery reparations and the Black Lives Matter movement after pressure from conservative politicians, including DeSantis.

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