Gov. Ron DeSantis has once again met an organization he can’t push around—and this time, the result is that Florida high school students won’t be able to take Advanced Placement Psychology. Thanks to the expansion of DeSantis’ signature “Don’t Say Gay” law to high schools, AP Psychology content on “how sex and gender influence socialization and other aspects of development”—a basic body of material that has been part of the course for decades—is now banned by law in Florida. Without that material, the College Board says, the course should not be considered for college credit, which is the whole point of AP classes. Therefore, the course cannot be taught in Florida.
”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. “The state has said districts are free to teach AP Psychology only if it excludes any mention of these essential topics.”
There’s a solid reason for the College Board refusing to bend here.
As we shared in June, we cannot modify AP Psychology in response to regulations that would censor college-level standards for credit, placement, and career readiness. Our policy remains unchanged. Any course that censors required course content cannot be labeled “AP” or “Advanced Placement,” and the “AP Psychology” designation cannot be utilized on student transcripts.
The College Board is backed by the American Psychological Association, while American Council of Education president Ted Mitchell has said, “It strains credulity to believe that our reviewers would certify for college credit a psychology course that didn’t include gender identity.”
This fight has been brewing since June, when the Florida Department of Education demanded that the College Board inspect its courses for “content or topics prohibited by State Board of Education rule and Florida law” and report on which “need modification to ensure compliance.” But the College Board had learned its lesson after an earlier fight with DeSantis over AP African American Studies, and refused to back down or make changes to the sex and gender part of the AP Psychology curriculum.
Some advanced curriculum organizations are buckling to DeSantis, and the College Board is calling them out directly.
We are surprised that IB and AICE/Cambridge—after agreeing to Florida’s demand that they exclude all references to gender and sexual orientation—expect universities to accept their courses and exams for college credit. No experienced educator or practitioner in our field would support the decision to make these topics off limits. We challenge IB and Cambridge to identify the experts whom they consulted prior to deciding that a fundamental component of psychological development would now be banished from the classroom instruction they seek to promote.
The American Psychological Association has also called on the organizations to restore the full curriculum.
Florida education officials are contending that they haven’t banned the course. They think a censored version should go forward, and are accusing the College Board of “playing games with Florida students.” Playing games? As the College Board said, “any A.P. Psychology course taught in Florida will violate either Florida law or college requirements.”
More than 28,000 Florida high school students took AP Psychology last year. That’s a lot of students losing out—but thanks to Florida Republicans and their bigoted law, those students would be losing out on a complete curriculum no matter what. We’re talking about the state that’s getting ready to teach kids that slavery had benefits to enslaved people. That’s happening while DeSantis’ partisan attacks on public higher education have caused a faculty exodus from his chief target, New College of Florida. DeSantis and Florida absolutely cannot be allowed to dictate anything on a national curriculum.
Sign the petition: Ron DeSantis cannot rewrite Black history
It’s a joyous week in Wisconsin, where Janet Protasiewicz’s swearing-in means that the state Supreme Court now has its first liberal majority in 15 years. We’re talking about that monumental transition on this week’s episode of “The Downballot,” including a brand-new suit that voting rights advocates filed on Protasiewicz’s first full day on the job that asks the court to strike down the GOP’s legislative maps as illegal partisan gerrymanders.