Thursday, August 03, 2023

ANNALS OF DeSANTISTAN: AP Psychology effectively banned in Florida because of gender, sexuality chapter (GANNETT/Tallahassee Democrat)

My South Jersey high school superintendent, Dr. Earl P. Mattison, shared this Adlai Stevenson quote in our yearbook: "As scarce as truth is, the supply seems greater than the demand."

Blocking AP Psychology classes?  

This is nuts.  

It makes Florida look stupider.

This is not about parents' rights -- this is about right-wing government control of public schools. 

Fanatical Puritanical GQP arachnid apparatchiks and hick hack harridan histrionics.  Ninnies, boobies and sad sacks apparently still have the ear of our Boy Governor and his henchmen. 


From GANNETT/Tallahassee Democrat:

AP Psychology effectively banned in Florida because of gender, sexuality chapter

Florida superintendents were advised Thursday by the state to nix their Advanced Placement Psychology classes unless they exclude any topics related to gender or sexuality, according to The College Board, which oversees the AP program.

Such a shift would mean the courses couldn't be called Advanced Placement, however, or used by students to earn college credit, the College Board said. And the organization is advising Florida districts not to offer the class until the state reverses its decision, saying any AP Psychology course taught in Florida will violate either state law or college requirements.

"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. "The state has said districts are free to teach AP Psychology only if it excludes any mention of these essential topics."

In June, the College Board said it would not alter the popular AP Psychology classafter the state asked the organization to review all AP courses to see if they "need modification to ensure compliance" with a Florida law and state Board of Education rule targeting instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Florida's school superintendents learned of the state education department's decision in a conference call Thursday morning. The news means school districts may have to quickly rejigger many students' schedules just days before the start of a new school year. This fall, about 30,000 students were enrolled to take the course statewide, the College Board said.

"We have heard from teachers across Florida who are heartbroken that they are being forced to drop AP and instead teach alternatives that have been deemed legal because the courses exclude these topics," said the nonprofit, which also administers the SAT.

The College Board isn't having it: Gov. Ron DeSantis wants to scrub AP classes of LGBTQ subjects. 

Florida to College Board: 'Stop playing games'

The state education agency in a statement blamed the last-minute change on the College Board's refusal to comply with Florida law, saying the organization was forcing school districts to prevent students from taking the class.

"The Department didn’t 'ban' the course," Deputy Director of Communications Cassie Palelis wrote. The class is still listed in Florida’s Course Code Directory for the 2023-2024 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," she said. "The other advanced course providers (including the International Baccalaureate program) had no issue providing the college credit psychology course."

'Very frustrating': Students react to shifting access to AP Psychology

In the state capital of Tallahassee, a spokesperson for Leon County Schools said the district planned to offer the class at all six of its high schools this fall, and as of Thursday, 381 students were set to take the course.

Walt Haber, a rising senior at Leon High School, had signed up to take AP Psychology during the new school year. He's already taken most of the AP classes at his high school, so the psychology course was one of his few remaining AP options.

His senior year starts in a week.

"This is very frustrating," said Haber, 18. "I was excited to take this class, and I am disappointed in the state's inability to conduce my education."

More than 28,000 Florida students at 562 schools in Florida took AP Psychology last school year, the College Board said. Noah Summerlin, a rising senior at Leon High School, was one of them.

"As a student who completed the AP Psychology course last year and personally benefitted from the knowledge it imparted, I'm beyond pissed off," he said.

"High school students, by and large, are capable of higher thought and rational decision-making," he added. "By excluding the fields of psychology which they deem 'inappropriate,' Ron DeSantis and other Republicans place their personal beliefs above the rights of public school students across Florida to a full and free education."

How does AP Psychology conflict with Florida law?

Gender and sexual orientation have been a part of the AP Psychology curriculum for the past 30 years, according to The College Board.

Last year, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is running to be the Republican nominee for president, signed into law a measure officially known as the Parental Rights in Education act but has been derided by critics as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. The law outlawed instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity in kindergarten through third grade. This spring, the law was expanded this year to 12th grade.

The portion of AP Psychology in question is unit 6.7, which discusses gender and sexuality and includes the definitions of gender, sexuality, gender roles and stereotypes and their socialization factors.

The Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest LGBTQ civil rights group, blasted the state's decision, calling the move a "disturbing" attempt to rewrite history.

"College Board’s AP Psychology curriculum is science-driven and endorsed by both educators and experts," HRC President Kelley Robinson said. "Educational systems that reject the inclusion of LGBTQ+ people from their psychology courses are failing in their commitment to students."

The American Psychological Association also expressed disappointment, calling the loss of course in Florida an "enormous disservice" to students.

“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," APA CEO Arthur C. Evans Jr., said. "An Advanced Placement course that ignores the decades of science studying sexual orientation and gender identity would deprive students of knowledge they will need to succeed in their studies, in high school and beyond."

Florida, College Board feud goes beyond AP Psychology

College Board’s AP African American Studies class, alleging it violated state law because of topics such as Black Lives Matter, Black feminism and reparations.

Florida's “Stop WOKE Act” restricts how race is discussed in schools, colleges and workplaces and prohibits any teaching that could make students feel they bear personal responsibility for historic wrongs because of their race, color, sex or national origin.

The AP class still has not been approved to be taught in Florida.

CONTRIBUTING: Ellie Houghton

Ana Goñi-Lessan is the State Watchdog Reporter for USA TODAY - Florida and can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @goni_lessan. 

This article originally appeared on Tallahassee Democrat: Florida effectively bans AP Psychology over gender, sexuality unit

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