Florida PTA Urges Further Clarification On AP Psychology Decision

Carolyn Nelson-Goedert

ORLANDO – The following statement can be attributed to Florida PTA President Carolyn Nelson-Goedert:

“Florida PTA has long supported expanding student access to postsecondary education, including the opportunity to pursue college-level courses before high school graduation. We recognize that college-level credit is awarded only to those who master college-level content, and that such content, in scope, rigor, and required maturity level, necessarily exceeds that generally offered at the secondary level.

Florida PTA has likewise long opposed censorship. As far back as 1983–forty years ago–we approved a position statement on ‘Instructional Materials–Selection and Review’ that read, in part, ‘Materials should not be proscribed, censored or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.’

The news that the Florida Department of Education will allow AP Psychology to be taught “in its entirety” during the 2023-2024 school year is therefore welcome indeed, and we thank Commissioner Diaz for his letter of August 4. However, in the light of continuing school district, parent, and student confusion regarding the meaning and implications of the phrase “in a manner that is age and developmentally appropriate,” we respectfully urge the Commissioner and the Department of Education to explicitly state the following:

  • School districts may provide students with instructional materials and instruction pertinent to gender identity and sexual orientation aligned with AP Psychology course specifications.
  • AP Psychology instructors, as well as the administrators who supervise them, will not face disciplinary action for providing instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation aligned with AP Psychology course specifications.
  • School board members will not face sanctions for approving the inclusion of AP Psychology, as structured for students nationwide, among the courses students may take.
  • School districts must inform the parents of students interested in enrolling in AP Psychology that the course involves instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation, and make course materials available to them for their review.
  • The decision for determining what is age and developmentally appropriate for their child is the parent’s, and the parent’s alone.

In addition, given the confusion and distress of the past few days regarding this course, we call upon the Florida Legislature to amend all statutes that censor course content based on arbitrary and subjective criteria, or that allow others than a student’s parents to limit their access to a full, rich, and thought-provoking curriculum.

Parents have the right to direct the education of their children, and neither the state, nor other parents, nor fellow citizens should be granted permission to act in their stead.

This is a slippery slope. In many Florida school districts, the status of AP Psychology remains in doubt, and many are wondering which course or course component might be next on the chopping block. Let us all work together so that in the future no student, parent, teacher, administrator or school board member need worry that censorship, no matter how well-intentioned, will circumscribe a student’s potential.

Florida PTA is the oldest and largest child advocacy association in Florida. Founded in 1923, it has successfully advocated for universal kindergarten, school lunches, bicycle helmets, elementary school recess, support for dyslexic students, parental notification of school site Baker Act implementation, equitable learning environments, and juvenile justice reform. PTA is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit association that prides itself on being a powerful voice for all children. More information is available by contacting Florida PTA at 407.855.7604 or [email protected].