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Authors Guild Condemns Florida’s AP Psychology Ban on Sex and Gender Content as an Attack on Free Speech and Academic Standards

Florida state flag that has the official seal of the state is planted at the East entrance of the Old State Capitol in Tallahassee, Florida

Update, August 8, 2023: The Florida Education Coordinator has now stated that Florida is not discouraging the districts from teaching AP Psychology and that “AP Psychology can be taught in its entirety in a manner that is age and developmentally appropriate.” At the moment, the Authors Guild is not convinced by this tepid and noncommittal expression of support for comprehensive learning. It doesn’t effectively reflect the state’s awareness that efforts to limit speech negatively impact its students and their education.

We echo the College Board’s call for a clearer commitment to allow Florida’s teachers and students the full learning experience, without punishment, and with acknowledgement for the importance of teaching about sex and gender in a course about basic human development.

August 4, 2023: The decision of the Florida Department of Education to effectively ban AP Psychology classes is an attack on the free speech rights of the students who wish to study psychology, and it diminishes the ability of teachers to do their jobs—namely educating their students. It also denies parents and students the freedom of choice. According to the College Board, the state has said that districts are free to teach AP Psychology only if teachers refrain from mentioning sex and gender and its impact on human development (foundational topics since the inception of the course 30 years ago).

This decision is an unfortunate but expected escalation of the state’s “Don’t Say Gay” efforts; now, they are compromising the quality of a student’s education and denying students the opportunity to earn college credit ahead of time through more affordable pathways. This also puts students at a disadvantage from their college peers who will have a more comprehensive understanding of the foundational elements of this field of study.

The College Board has stated that it cannot modify AP Psychology “in response to regulations that would censor college-level standards for credit, placement and career readiness”—nor should it. It remains to be seen how Florida will continue its attack on the state’s teachers, students, and education itself, all in an effort to censor and control speech.