TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA — Last week, Lawton Chiles High School in Tallahassee announced that it will be scrapping the Advanced Placement (AP) Psychology course. The move comes after the Florida Department of Education (DOE) instructed schools to no longer teach a section of the course’s standards related to gender identity and sexuality.
High schools in Leon County are permitted to scrap the course on a school-by-school basis.
The DOE’s guidance comes after Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed the expanded Parental Rights in Education bill which bans the discussion of gender identity and sexuality in public schools.
Lawton Chiles Principal Joseph Burgess wrote an email outlining the reason for the course being nixed:
“As many of you may have heard, there is a discrepancy in the AP Psychology required curriculum and the new statutory rules regarding appropriate instruction in the state of Florida,” Burgess wrote last week, according to WCTV. “This difference is requiring all Florida school districts to determine alternative options for this course.”
Chris Petley, spokesman for the Leon County School District, said students will be permitted to take a dual-enrollment course at Florida A&M University and still receive college credit.
LEON COUNTY MOVING FORWARD WITH THE COURSE
On Tuesday, Leon County Schools Superintendent Rocky Hanna released a statement saying that officially, Leon County teachers will be encouraged to teach AP Psychology in its entirety.
“Leon County Schools will teach the AP Psychology course this year,” Hanna said. “Our teachers have some concerns, but we are going to take the commissioner of education’s word when he says that Advanced Placement Psychology may be taught in its entirety. I have communicated to our staff to respect the law and follow the law, but not to fear the law and do more than it requires.”
As Hanna indicated in his statement, Florida Education Commissioner Manny Diaz, Jr. has publicly stated that teachers can teach the course in its entirety so long as it is “age and developmentally appropriate.”
COLLEGE BOARD SAYS STOP
The College Board, which oversees AP courses, responded to the DOE’s instructions to schools and school districts stating they are “sad to learn” that DOE has “effectively banned AP Psychology in the state.” The College Board also recommended that the course should simply be ceased.
“To be clear, any AP Psychology course taught in Florida will violate either Florida law or college requirements,” the College Board wrote in a statement. “Therefore, we advise Florida districts not to offer AP Psychology until Florida reverses their decision and allows parents and students to choose to take the full course.”
OTHER SCHOOL DISTRICTS END AP PSYCH
Palm Beach County announced they will no longer be offering the AP course while committing to finding alternative courses for students who were signed up for the class.
"We apologize for any inconvenience caused to students and our teachers who have already prepared for this course and want to assure our community that we are dedicated to helping our students find suitable alternatives within our curriculum," Palm Beach County School District spokeswoman Angela Cruz Ledford told the Palm Beach Post.
Similarly, the Duval County School District, which includes Jacksonville, announced they are also removing the course citing not wanting to put their teachers and instructors in a legal predicament if the course is taught in full.
“Every course we teach must be taught according to state law,” the Duval County School District's statement said. “If AP Psychology is taught in its entirety, which is required for students to sit for the exam, it could place teachers and school leaders in uncertain waters with potential charges under the law.”