The College Board, the organization that oversees Advanced Placement courses for high school students nationwide, has rejected Florida’s demand to remove content on sexual orientation and gender identity from its AP psychology curriculum.
The move comes amid a broader clash between the College Board and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a Republican presidential candidate, who has been leading a conservative crusade against what he considers “indoctrination” in public schools.
In April, the Florida Board of Education voted to extend a ban on classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity to all grades, including high school. The ban was previously limited to pre-kindergarten to third grade.
Last month, the Florida Department of Education asked the College Board to conduct a review of all its AP courses and sign an assurance document that they comply with Florida’s new rules and laws. The department also asked the College Board to indicate which courses would need to be modified by June 16.
But the College Board refused to comply, saying that it would not alter its courses to accommodate restrictions on teaching essential, college-level topics.
“Doing so would break the fundamental promise of AP: colleges wouldn’t broadly accept that course for credit and that course wouldn’t prepare students for careers in the discipline,” the College Board said in a letter to AP teachers on Thursday.
The College Board also said that it learned from its mistakes in the recent rollout of AP African American studies, which was also criticized by DeSantis for promoting a political agenda. The College Board initially removed or reduced concepts such as reparations and systemic racism from the course, but later acknowledged that it needed to revise it again to better reflect how the subject is taught on college campuses.
“We have learned from our mistakes in the recent rollout of AP African American studies and know that we must be clear from the outset where we stand,” the College Board said.
The College Board highlighted that AP psychology, which includes a unit on gender and sexual orientation, is one of its most popular courses, with more than 27,000 students enrolled in Florida during the 2022-23 school year. The course has existed for more than 30 years and is based on the standards of the American Psychological Association (APA), which says that these topics are foundational for any college-level course in psychology.
“Educators cannot teach psychology and exclude an entire group of people from the curriculum,” said Arthur C. Evans Jr., CEO of the APA. “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.”
Evans also denounced Florida’s law as an attempt to erase LGBTQ+ people from public view based on biased thinking and irrational fear. “Our youth need access to age-appropriate, evidence-based information regarding sexual orientation and gender identity so that they may grow up to be healthy, informed and well-adjusted citizens,” he said.
The College Board said it did not know if Florida would ban AP psychology or any other AP course as a result of its decision. “To AP teachers in Florida, we are heartbroken by the possibility of Florida students being denied the opportunity to participate in this or any other AP course,” the College Board said. “To AP teachers everywhere, please know we will not modify any of the 40 AP courses — from art to history to science — in response to regulations that would censor college-level standards for credit, placement, and career readiness.”
The Florida Department of Education did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
– College Board says it won’t alter AP courses to comply with Florida’s laws, The Hill, 06/15/23
– College Board defends AP course amid Florida restrictions on LGBTQ lessons, The Washington Post, 06/15/23
– Florida asks College Board to modify AP Psych curriculum. The answer: Absolutely not, MSN, 06/15/23
– Florida Schools Question Content on Gender and Sexuality in A.P. Psychology, The New York Times, 06/15/23