Florida teachers’ union accuses DeSantis of using ‘extremist agenda’ to ‘censor’ AP Psychology due to state’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law. College Board claims course is ‘effectively banned’.

Florida teachers' union accuses DeSantis of using 'extremist agenda' to 'censor' AP Psychology due to state's 'Don't Say Gay' law. College Board claims course is 'effectively banned'.

Florida’s Ban on AP Psychology Sparks Controversy and Criticism

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A recent decision by the Florida Department of Education to ban discussions of sexuality and gender in schools has sparked a controversy surrounding the Advanced Placement (AP) Psychology course. The College Board, which oversees AP coursework in high schools across the United States, has declared that the course is “effectively banned” in Florida under this new law.

The law, often referred to as the “Don’t Say Gay” law, has faced criticism from the Florida Education Association, the largest labor union in the Southeast representing over 150,000 education workers. The union accuses Governor Ron DeSantis of an “extremist agenda,” using fear tactics to divide and distract parents.

The College Board issued a statement expressing its concern over the ban, stating that the AP Psychology course includes topics such as how sex and gender influence socialization and development. These topics have been part of the curriculum for over three decades. However, under the Florida law, teachers are prohibited from discussing gender identity and sexual orientation in the classroom.

In response to the College Board’s announcement, Andrew Spar, president of the Florida Education Association, criticized Governor DeSantis and his administration for interfering with parental rights. Spar argues that the attempt to censor the AP Psychology course is just another example of the governor’s extremist agenda. He asserts that students are being deprived of educational opportunities due to one man’s political ambitions.

While the Florida Department of Education claims that the AP Psychology course has not been banned, the College Board maintains that any course taught in Florida either violates state law by including essential topics related to gender and sexuality or fails to meet college requirements by excluding them.

Colin Sharkey, executive director of the Association of American Educators, cautions that the unclear language and inaccurate interpretation of the law have a chilling effect on educators, potentially disrupting the learning environment beyond the lawmakers’ original intent.

The controversy surrounding the AP Psychology ban raises concerns about academic freedom and the impact on students’ education. Critics argue that limiting the discussion of topics related to sexuality and gender identity stifles critical thinking and inhibits meaningful dialogue among students and educators. Supporters of the ban, on the other hand, argue that it protects the rights of parents to control the values taught to their children.

It remains to be seen how this dispute will unfold. The outcome will have implications not only for AP Psychology students in Florida but also for the broader conversation on the balance between parental rights and academic freedom.