A back-and-forth on AP Psychology courses in Florida has sparked confusion and concerns among parents and educators.

After the College Board said last week that AP Psychology was effectively banned in Florida, the state’s board of education released a letter that said it didn’t discourage districts from teaching the course but that the course could be taught in its entirety in a way that’s “age and developmentally appropriate.”

“I feel like we have to do everything we can do to keep him competitive. Traditionally I think it wouldn’t have been a problem, but now, I feel like I am fighting against the governor and Department of Education,” said Judi Hayes, who has a son in 10th grade.

Her son has taken AP courses in the past year, and this year, he was set to take ap psychology.

However, last week the College Board said Florida school districts were told by FDOE they could only teach the course if they excluded content concerning gender and sexual orientation.

But on Friday, the department released a letter that said districts could teach this course in a way that is “age and developmentally appropriate.”


But Hayes’ fear is that even given the green light, districts will be wary of teaching the class.

“They want to be able to offer this class, but they can’t expose their teachers to potential prosecution even though the law is patently ridiculous,” she said.

The rules Hayes is referring to were approved back in April, which say that those in fourth to 12th grade can’t be taught about sexual orientation or gender identity.

“Unless such instruction is either expressly required by state academic standards or is part of a reproductive health course or health lesson for which a student’s parent has the option to have his or her student not attend,” the rules say.


After the FDOE reversed its decision, the College Board released a statement saying, “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.”
But institutions like the Florida PTA are asking for more clarification in order for the course to be taught. That includes the Department of Education providing the materials needed to teach the course, making sure instructors don’t get penalized for teaching the class, and that the decision for the student to take the course is the parents’ decision alone.

“He’s using our kids as pawns, my kids’ future; my kids are entitled to learn about the existence of LGBTQ+ people. They just are,” Hayes said.

Francis is a non-binary social sciences teacher who has taught AP psychology in the past.

“We are middle of pre-planning, and what two days from now, the kids are coming back, and they are still not trained on what exactly is appropriate, what is not appropriate, what is considered developmentally appropriate for high school kids? I think everyone is treading on thin ice with that and being very careful with what they are doing because the law is so vague. No one wants to break the law; I don’t want to lose my license. I want to keep teaching.”

Francis points out that while the state said they’re not denying any districts from teaching the course, FDOE did say that the College Board may withhold the AP designation from this course in Florida and that there were other advanced course providers like IB and Cambridge who will provide psychology courses.

“I taught IB psychology before, which is an excellent program for psychology. However, they are okay with omitting the themes of gender identity and sexuality, which again, then, is it an accurate survey of that course?”

As for Hayes’ son, with school starting on Thursday, she thinks that he will be made to take the Cambridge version of the course, but she’s worried about the bigger picture.

“For families for who a six-hour AP class credit is transformational and is life-changing, whether it’s my son who might want to go to an ivy league school or the kid who is just barely scraping by and need that leg up to obtain an education, why on earth would we throw any roadblock in there way?”

Hayes said she is working with a legal team to challenge Florida’s law that makes it illegal to teach about sexual orientation and gender identity.

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