Florida officials tell state schools to teach AP Psychology 'in its entirety'

College Board previously said the state had effectively banned the course.

August 4, 2023, 7:28 PM

Florida Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr. has instructed Florida school officials to teach College Board's AP Psychology course "in its entirety," according to a letter obtained by ABC News from the state Department of Education.

The letter follows the College Board's announcement that Florida officials had effectively banned the course by instructing state superintendents "that teaching foundational content on sexual orientation and gender identity is illegal under state law."

"The department believes AP Psychology can be taught in its entirety in a manner that is age and developmentally appropriate and the course remains listed in our course catalog," Diaz wrote in the Aug. 4 letter to school officials.

"College Board has suggested that it might withhold the 'AP' designation from this course in Florida, ultimately hurting Florida students. This is especially concerning given that the new school year begins in a week."

PHOTO: Back view of large group of students sitting in the classroom and listening to their teacher.
STOCK IMAGE/Getty Images

Several Florida policies have impacted how certain topics are taught in state public schools, including restrictions on content related to gender, sexual orientation and race in classrooms.

According to College Board, the AP course asks students to "describe how sex and gender influence socialization and other aspects of development." College Board said that sexual orientation and gender have been an element of the coursework since the AP course was launched 30 years ago.

College Board reported Thursday that Florida school districts were told by the Florida Department of Education they could teach the courses but only without the content concerning gender and sexual orientation.

However, the College Board said that without this required course content, the course cannot be labeled "AP" or "Advanced Placement" and the "AP Psychology" designation can't be used on school transcripts.

"Understanding human sexuality is fundamental to psychology, and an advanced placement course that excludes 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," said American Psychological Association CEO Arthur C. Evans Jr., in a June statement on the ongoing discussion about the course content.

Diaz, in his letter to superintendents, stressed that "AP Psychology is and will remain in the course code directory making it available to Florida students."

In a statement to ABC News, College Board said, "We hope now that Florida teachers will be able to teach the full course, including content on gender and sexual orientation, without fear of punishment in the upcoming school year." Continuing, "While district superintendents continue to seek additional clarity from the department, we note the clear guidance that, 'AP Psychology may be taught in its entirety.'"

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