Advanced Placement Psychology is the subject of the latest skirmish in the monthslong battle between the state of Florida and the College Board.
The board said in a statement released on Thursday afternoon that several Florida school districts had raised concerns about the course, noting that its content may violate new state laws limiting how issues of gender and sexuality are taught. The class has existed for decades and is among the country’s most popular A.P. courses, along with English and U.S. History. This year, more than 28,000 Florida students took the A.P. Psychology exam.
The College Board, which runs the A.P. program and the SAT, said on Thursday that gender and sexual orientation were foundational to the college-level study of psychology, and that it would not remove such content.
The Florida Department of Education did not immediately respond on Thursday to a request for comment.
Ron DeSantis, the Florida governor, has threatened to reconsider his state’s relationship with the College Board.Credit…Matias J. Ocner/Miami Herald, via Associated Press
Why it Matters
Under Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican presidential candidate, Florida has been a leader among conservative states that have passed laws restricting how gender, sexuality and race can be taught in kindergarten through 12th grade.
Most recently, in April, the state extended to all grades, including high school, a ban on classroom instruction about gender identity and sexual orientation.
Few organizations have had a more difficult time navigating these limitations than the College Board, whose Advanced Placement program offers 40 courses that are available across the country.
A.P. Psychology includes a unit on “gender and sexual orientation,” which asks students to “describe how sex and gender influence socialization and other aspects of development.”
In its Thursday statement, the board said: “We don’t know if the state of Florida will ban this course. To A.P. teachers in Florida, we are heartbroken by the possibility of Florida students being denied the opportunity to participate in this or any other A.P. course.”
The American Psychological Association said on Thursday that it supported the board’s decision not to change the course’s content.
The College Board’s stated refusal to revise A.P. Psychology stands in marked contrast to its response to Florida’s efforts last year to influence the curriculum of A.P. African American Studies. In that case, the board initially removed or reduced concepts, such as reparations, to which conservative lawmakers objected.
The College Board has since acknowledged mistakes in how it handled the Black studies class, and has said that it will revise the course yet again to better reflect how the subject is taught on college campuses.
“In developing the framework for A.P. African American Studies, we tried to create a course that could be available in states across the country and accurately represent a college-level course on the subject,” the College Board said on Thursday. “We learned that both of those objectives could not be achieved if state policies prohibit content that is essential for a college-level course.”
Governor DeSantis has threatened to reconsider his state’s entire relationship with the College Board. In a May 19 letter to the nonprofit, the Florida Department of Education wrote, “We implore you to immediately conduct a thorough review of all College Board courses.”
The conflict will likely continue. There are many A.P. classes whose content, as interpreted by schools and teachers, might run counter to new conservative regulations on how race, gender and sexuality are discussed in the classroom.