The College Board is refusing to change its long-standing Advanced Placement Psychology course after the Florida Department of Education requested that the course and all others offered by the organization be audited and modified to fit state laws restricting instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity.
In a May 19 letter to the College Board obtained by K-12 Dive, the state department's Office of Articulation asked the organization to “immediately conduct a thorough review of all College Board courses” and inform the state “whether these courses need modification to ensure compliance” by June 16.
“Some courses may contain content or topics prohibited by State Board of Education rule and Florida law,” said the letter, which cited the state’s “Parental Rights in Education” law signed March 27 by Gov. Ron DeSantis, which regulates instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in public schools.
In its response last week, the College Board said it doesn't plan to modify any of its 40 AP courses — including AP Psychology — in response to efforts spreading in various states to regulate LGBTQ+ and race-related content.
“We don’t know if the state of Florida will ban this course,” the organization said in a statement. “To AP teachers in Florida, we are heartbroken by the possibility of Florida students being denied the opportunity to participate in this or any AP course.”
College Board’s refusal to budge on its course content comes after a months-long feud with Florida over the organization’s new AP African American Studies course, which the state claimed is “inexplicably contrary to Florida law and significantly lacks educational value.”
The College Board sparked criticism nationwide after it significantly altered that course's framework to remove required topics related to intersectionality, reparations and Black Queer studies, and made some topics optional instead.
While the College Board disputed Florida's claim at the time that the changes to the framework were made in response to its request, it now said in a statement it has “learned from our mistakes in the recent rollout of AP African American Studies and know that we must be clear from the outset where we stand.”
College Board’s 181-page AP Psychology course framework includes a topic on gender and sexual orientation, which the organization says has been an issue for Florida school district leaders in light of recent anti-LGBTQ+ laws. The learning target for that section is listed as being able to “describe how sex and gender influence socialization and other aspects of development.”
"That learning objective must remain a required topic, just as it has been in Florida for many years," the College Board said in response to Florida's request.