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The Student News Site of Lyman High School

Greyhound Growl

The Student News Site of Lyman High School

Greyhound Growl

Psyching Out the Psych Kids

Advanced Placement Psychology gets “banned” from high schools across Florida.
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Is Advanced Placement Psychology going to be a class or not?

This is the question that plagued thousands of students across Florida at the start of the school year. In the panic-inducing Aug. 3 statement, the College Board announced that Florida “effectively banned” AP Psychology if they choose not to teach all the course’s content, including one topic about gender and sexual orientation.

“I figured out a week before school started. Me and my friends were outraged,” Osley Castillo (11) said. “We were all really upset because we wanted to take psychology. It felt like they were taking away something that shouldn’t have been able to be taken away in the first place.”

On Aug. 4, Florida’s Commissioner of Education Manny Diaz, Jr. promised that it was possible to teach AP Psychology “in its entirety.” This answer left schools uncertain about how to move forward. In the confusion, Lyman chose a possible replacement: AP Seminar.

“I do have an interest in AP Psychology and I hoped that we [would] go over aspects of the human mind and how it works and all that,” Broderick Starling (11) said. “I had no idea what AP Seminar was. They did a little explanation but I didn’t know what it was before.”

Barely a week before school started, psychology teachers Mr. James DeStefano and Mr. Robert Hovel were left with the possibility of adapting a psychological-focused AP Seminar course for over 90 students who were expecting AP Psychology.

“As an educator, my whole existence is to provide my students with information that not only can better their lives but enhance their critical thinking skills,” DeStefano said. “To not be able to do that, for a subject I find vital to the human experience, was beyond disappointing.”

The Parental Rights in Education law passed back in 2022 which restricted instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in grades K through 8. However, on May 18, the legislature passed HB1069. The bill further expanded the law to also restrict high school instruction to be “age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students.”

The day after the expanded bill was added into Florida law, Diaz asked the College Board to sign documents promising that their courses follow the State Board of Education and Florida law. 

“I feel like school is a place for learning information..anything that’s related to something personal to somebody, I don’t think should be talked about,” CJ Martinez (12) said. “I feel like people are focusing too much on their personal beliefs and bringing that into school.”

The College Board refused to fill out or sign any of the documents. Back in January, Florida banned AP African American Studies from being taught in the state. In response, the College Board removed some topics recommended for the course to combat the “WOKE” accusations of the DeSantis administration. 

Despite the attempt, DeSantis claimed the course “lacks educational value.” The College Board released a statement apologizing for their “failure to raise our voice betrayed Black scholars everywhere and those who have long toiled to build this remarkable field.”

The College Board was committed to not “modify[ing] our courses to accommodate restrictions on teaching essential, college-level topics.” 

“I was really stressed out when I was almost not able to take AP Psychology…we’re old enough to know how we feel and [what] we believe about it. So teaching wouldn’t [change] anything. It just gives us more knowledge about that stuff,” Isabella Cruz-Andrews (10) said.

Many students saw it as a continuation of stricter LGBTQ+ restrictions like the nickname approval.

“This is a class [mostly] juniors take. At that age, [sex and gender] is stuff you’re going to figure out. The information they’re trying to limit? We’re going to come across anyway,” Castillo said. “It’s better for us to get this information from a trained adult than someone who might not be trained from the internet.”

In Diaz’s clarification to superintendents the day before school started, he specified that AP Psychology topic 6.7 on sexual and gender orientation could be taught in an “age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students.” 

“[The Florida Department of Education] only really gave us one lesson [on Topic 6.7]. It was less them giving it to us and more us making sure the lessons stayed within the laws in Florida,” DeStefano said. “Everything else is the same curriculum from years past.”

With parents and guardians also upset and livid over the situation, teachers like DeStefano took the time to address the issue with their classes.

“[DeStefano] had a whole class where he talked about the outcomes of it and how it could affect your schooling in general. He did not mind what our opinions were on it and he was going to help us no matter what,” Martinez said. “I have found out a lot more about myself [from AP Psychology]…I found that I’ve been able to process information better and have stronger comunction with friends.”

Other school districts responded by providing the Cambridge International, International Baccalaureate, or dual enrollment alternatives instead of reinstating the AP course.

“I was going to make the best of it, but [the potential ban at Lyman] definitely affected me,” DeStefano said. “Happy doesn’t even begin to describe [getting AP Psychology back]. Selfishly happy for me. Selfishly happy for you guys.”

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About the Contributors
Johnathan Singh, Staff Writer
Hey everybody! My name’s Johnathan and I am a junior this year that is part of Lyman's Newspaper this year! I’m very excited to cover multiple different types of topics this year that range from all different fields. I love the sports scene that Lyman offers. I play volleyball here but I also love all the other sports. I love explaining my thoughts to people and making sure the students' voices are heard.
Jo Nguyen, Adviser
Hi! I'm Mx. Nguyen—Lyman's yearbook, newspaper, and magazine adviser as of 2023. I started my teaching career in English, found my way over to journalism, and completely fell in love with the program. I built Oak Ridge High's program from the ground up and I'm excited to build up the Lyman Journalism program to something other schools are jealous of. I'm in the best room on campus, 7-107, if you want to get involved or ask any questions! When can you come ask questions? Before school, periods 4–6, and after school.

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