Florida Bans AP Psychology Over Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Teachings

Catherine Yang
By Catherine Yang
August 4, 2023US News
Florida Bans AP Psychology Over Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Teachings
Republican presidential candidate Florida Governor Ron DeSantis delivers remarks at the 2023 Christians United for Israel summit in Arlington, Va., on July 17, 2023. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

Florida school superintendents were told on Thursday that Advanced Placement (AP) Psychology classes will only be allowed in schools if they exclude the portions on sexual identity and gender identity, effectively banning the course in the state of Florida.

The College Board, which oversees the AP program, issued a long statement on Florida’s decision Thursday. It reiterated its June statement that AP classes cannot be modified in such a manner, and AP Psychology cannot be taught if these topics are omitted.

“Our policy remains unchanged,” it stated. “To be clear, any AP Psychology course taught in Florida will violate either Florida law or college requirements. 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.”

Despite this, IB and AICE/Cambridge have already agreed to Florida’s change.

The College Board has been critical of Florida’s education policy changes, as the state continues to embark on Gov. Ron DeSantis’s mission to remove Marxist-leaning ideologies from public education. Florida is currently overhauling many areas of public school curriculum. The Epoch Times asked the governor’s office whether a ban on the course was the intention.

AP Psychology

The course asks students to “describe how sex and gender influence socialization and other aspects of development.”

The College Board says this is not something new, and that “gender and sexual orientation have been part of AP Psychology since the course launched 30 years ago.”

In Unit 6, on developmental psychology, students learn about gender and sexual orientation and its impact. In Unit 9, on social psychology, students learn about “how social and cultural categories like gender and race can impact self-concept and behavior.”

The AP Psychology development committee at the College Board stated that the course cannot be given credit without the portions on sexual orientation and gender identity because “psychology graduates go on to pursue a range of careers and must be able to successfully navigate professional environments that will require familiarity with these concepts.”

According to the College Board, AP Psychology was the sixth most popular AP course in Florida the last school year.

Left-Leaning Psychology

The American Psychological Association (APA) has weighed in extensively (pdf) on Florida’s decision, not just explaining the need to teach sex and gender issues in the college-level psychology course, but insisting the topics must be taught in an “affirming, inclusive” way.

Though the topics have been included in AP Psychology for 30 years, it is possible the way it is taught has shifted. An online cram school quiz related to the unit uses the example of David Reimer, a famous case that showed gender is tied to biological sex. Today, the “gender affirming” model teaches the opposite, leading to the term “transgender,” which replaces the term “transexual.”

“Removing the study of groups of people is a form of discrimination and we know that discrimination against sexual and gender minority people is associated with higher rates of negative mental and behavioral health outcomes than in the general population,” APA wrote in a letter to Cambridge/AICE officials. APA has stated that its objection to the Florida laws is based in the idea that they will “erase LGBTQ+ people from public view.”

Clinical treatment of gender dysmorphia has changed drastically in recent years, with organizations like APA pushing a “gender affirming” model that requires professionals to urge patients to undertake physical treatments if they are uncomfortable with their gender. Two decades ago, psychologists treating the disorder would have done the opposite, with the understanding that for the vast majority of children, the problem goes away if left alone. Psychologists worked to help adult patients feel comfortable with their bodies, and had the understanding to never recommended cross-sex procedures as a first option.

Today, the APA’s official position (pdf) on gender dysphoria is to support access to “gender affirming care” including puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and surgery, while also opposing any legislative measures that limit physicians’ and clinicians’ abilities to provide these services, or limit people, especially minors, having access to these treatments.

It maintains that these cross-sex procedures are beneficial to minors because “trans-affirming treatment, such as the use of puberty suppression, is associated with the relief of emotional distress, and notable gains in psychological and emotional development.”

These arguments tend to be taken from short term surveys—girls suffering from depression often feel euphoric from initial testosterone doses, for example, and a progressive school environment can cheer on students seeking to transition. But long-term surveys, of which there are few, reveal detransitioners who regret decisions they were urged to make by professionals and suicide risk that does not decrease from pre-treatment.

From The Epoch Times

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