Florida loses AP psychology courses thanks to ‘Don’t Say Gay or Trans’ law

Republican presidential candidate Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during a campaign event, Monday, July 31, 2023, in Rochester, N.H.
Republican presidential candidate Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during a campaign event, Monday, July 31, 2023, in Rochester, N.H.
AP Photo/Charles Krupa

The fallout over Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay or Trans” law continues to reverberate across the state’s educational institutions. The College Board announced on August 3 that AP psychology has been effectively barred from Florida because the course includes a section on gender identity and sexual orientation, which conflicts with the law championed by Governor Ron DeSantis.

“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,” College Board said in a written statement.

In order for the class to continue in Florida, changes would need to be made to the coursework to remove references to sexual orientation or gender identity. The College Board said any AP Psychology course taught in Florida without these topics would not be considered Advanced Placement since it would not reflect the full coursework.

“The AP course asks students to ‘describe how sex and gender influence socialization and other aspects of development,’” College Board said. “This element of the framework is not new: gender and sexual orientation have been part of AP Psychology since the course launched 30 years ago,” 

They added: “The American Psychological Association recently reaffirmed that any course that excludes these topics would violate their guidelines and should not be considered for college credit.”

The College Board’s Development Committee, which is made up of high school and college educators and is responsible for guiding the AP Psychology course, also spoke out about the importance of including the full coursework in AP Psychology.

“As a committee, we affirm that gender and sexual orientation are essential, longstanding, and foundational topics in the study of psychology,” the committee noted. “College-level introductory psychology students will encounter gender and sexual orientation as topics of study. Psychology graduates go on to pursue a range of careers and must be able to successfully navigate professional environments that will require familiarity with these concepts. To best prepare these students for college placement and careers in psychology, the topic on gender and sexual orientation will continue to be required in AP Psychology.”

The Committee also called out the IB and AICE/Cambridge programs for allowing these changes to be made to the curriculum and coursework in order to comply with Florida’s law, expressing that they do not expect universities to accept their courses and exams for this reason and that it is a shock that these programs do expect it.

“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 Committee said. 

Equality Florida, which fights to advance LGBTQ rights in the Sunshine State, said in a written statement that “the DeSantis regime is at war with students and parents, censoring more AP curriculum and denying students the opportunity to earn college credit.”

“The administration has already stated that the AP African American Studies course ‘lacks significant educational value,’ instead preferring to falsely applaud slavery as an American jobs program,” Equality Florida stated. “Now, the DeSantis Administration wants to rewrite AP Psychology curriculum to enforce their image of America, too. Governor DeSantis will undermine any student’s education, revoke any parent’s rights, and demolish any curriculum to remake Florida’s schools into right wing propaganda machines in service to his political ambitions. His administration continues to use families and classrooms as pawns and do catastrophic damage to this state and its reputation.”