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Florida ban on AP Psychology threatens academic freedom of students

AP+Psychology+is+the+sixth+most+popular+AP+course+according+to+the+American+Psychology+Association.+Nonetheless%2C+Florida%E2%80%99s+Department+of+Education+announced+Aug.+3+that+the+course+would+be+discontinued+because+the+teaching+of+sexual+orientation+and+gender+identity+is+illegal+under+HB+1557.
Annika Skorski
AP Psychology is the sixth most popular AP course according to the American Psychology Association. Nonetheless, Florida’s Department of Education announced Aug. 3 that the course would be discontinued because the teaching of sexual orientation and gender identity is illegal under HB 1557.

As the course selection deadline swiftly approached last spring, we meticulously looked through classes and Advanced Placement courses to craft our junior year schedule. We were both interested in social sciences and were hooked on AP Psychology after reading the course description. 

College Board announced Aug. 3 that “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 prohibition of AP Psychology is detrimental to the Florida education system and poses a greater threat to academic freedom as it infringes upon students’ intellectual liberty, impairs college readiness, sets a dangerous precedent for censorship and perpetuates negative messages surrounding gender and race in school subjects. 

Last spring, over 326,000 students sat the AP Psychology exam, with 28,000 of those students having been educated in Florida, according to the American Psychology Association. Unfortunately, students in Florida this school year will no longer have the opportunity to take this exam. Under HB 1557, also known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, the AP Psychology curriculum is not permitted to be taught in any Florida public schools due to its inclusion of gender identity and sexual orientation.

Interest in AP Psychology has only increased since its establishment in 1992, as it became the fifth most popular exam of the 38 AP tests in 2022, according to The College Board’s summary report. Currently, 82 students in the High School are enrolled in AP Psychology and will take the exam this spring.

It’s crucial to understand that AP courses, such as AP Psychology, are entirely optional, with students enrolling in them voluntarily. Consequently, the content of the course does not impose opinions on students but is intended to study human behavior and mental processes. 

Students who are passionate about AP Psychology should not be penalized as a consequence of Florida’s recurring efforts to stifle conversations around sexuality and gender identity in classrooms. This restriction places them at a disadvantage when pursuing higher education and careers in the social science field because they do not have the same access to education as their counterparts across the U.S. and globally.

According to College Board, the course’s coverage of LGBTQ+ topics is limited, focusing primarily on “how sex and gender influence socialization and other aspects of development.” There is no doubt that gender plays a pivotal role in the psychology of people. Our gender defines our human experiences by impacting how we interact with others, how we are perceived and how we are treated. Hence, it must be included in an advanced psychology course.

In addition, prohibiting an AP course due to sparse content on gender sends a harmful message of exclusion. Florida has continued to silence the voice of the LGBTQ+ community by banning gender-affirming care and forbidding transgender people to use the restrooms of their gender identity. Now Florida’s mission has extended to schools. This is because they contribute to an exclusionary educational environment as the ultimate message of the ban is that certain students do not fit into the curriculum. Florida’s actions do not value the identities and experiences of LGBTQ+ students and overall, strip students of the dignity and respect they deserve in the classroom. 

Being able to take courses of your choice is a privilege that helps students develop their interests as they enter high school. In banning APs that lead to interest development, Florida has stripped its students of the vital opportunity to explore a variety of academic passions. 

The bill HB 1557 is particularly concerning as it sets a dangerous precedent for censorship of information and education. When a government starts to dictate what can and cannot be taught in schools, it encroaches upon the principles of academic freedom and free speech.

As students who have the freedom to choose any AP without government intervention, we believe that this right should be extended to all students, including those in Florida.

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About the Contributors
Annika Skorski
Annika Skorski, Lead Opinions Editor
Annika Skorski (’25) is the Lead Opinions Editor for The Standard. She joined the newspaper in Grade 9 because she enjoys connecting with the global community by reporting on current events to challenge and broaden others' thinking. Outside the newsroom, she leads Model United Nations, loves to read and participates in varsity volleyball, tennis as well as community partnerships.
Tara Behbehani
Tara Behbehani, Opinions Editor: Online
Tara Behbehani ('25) is the Opinions Editor: Online of The Standard. Behbehani’s passion for reading and writing urged her to take a journalism course. Aside from The Standard, Behbehani is on the debate team and co-leads the Interfaith and Dialogue club.

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