Chapter 10: Gender and LGBTQ+ Inclusive Practice in Early Childhood

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Chapter authors

  • Shaddai Tembo
  • Fifi Benham

Chapter overview

This chapter examines the role of gender and LGBTQ+ inclusive practice to understand how we, as educators, might raise children un-limited from the gendered and heteronormative beliefs which negatively impact their identities. This chapter is written in three parts. Initially, we provide an overview of the field across the past century and consider how gender and LGBTQ+ inclusion is received today within both public and scholarly arenas. Secondly, we turn to practice and consider strategies for inclusion based on our own experiences with young children. Finally, we look forward to an agenda for the future, considering what kind of change might be needed to maintain, and heighten, a focus on gender and LGBTQ+ inclusion.

Chapter objectives

  • To explore contemporary research and policy regarding gender and LGBTQ+ inclusive practice in early childhood
  • To provide a historical overview of issues surrounding gender and LGBTQ+ inclusion
  • To consider how issues of inclusion are presently received in public and scholarly arenas
  • To examine strategies for gender and LGBTQ+ inclusive practice for young children
  • To propose an agenda for the future towards wider and embedded gender and LGBTQ+ inclusion.

Further reading


Price, D. and Tayler, K. (2015). LGBT Diversity and Inclusion in Early Years Education. London: Routledge – supports practitioners in thinking about LGBT issues in relation to their early years practice

Heywood, S. and Adzajlic, B. (2022). Challenging Gender Stereotypes in the Early Years: Changing the Narrative. Routledge.
– This is a manual for every early years practitioner who wishes to expand their knowledge and improve their practice around gender stereotyping in the early years. 

Children’s books

Letterbox Library is an online, not-for-profit social enterprise and a co-operative committed to celebrating equality, diversity and inclusion in children’s books

McMurray, B. (2012). The New Goldilocks and the Three Bears. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.

Love, J. (1900?) Julián is a Mermaid. Candlewick Press.

Lukoff, K. and Juanita, K. (2019) When Aidan Became a Brother. Lee & Low books.

Supplementary material

Online resources

  • Let Toys Be Toys is a campaign asking the toy and publishing industries to stop limiting children’s interests by promoting some toys and books as only suitable for girls, and others only for boys. they have a number of useful early years resources. 
  • The No Outsiders programme promotes an ethos of inclusion and tolerance, and aims to prepare children for life in modern Britain.
  • Mermaids UK have plenty of useful resources for supporting  gender-diverse children and young people 
  • Stonewall’s Getting Started guide provides provide practical ideas, prompts and reflections to support you to be inclusive of lesbian, gay, bi and trans people in your setting 
  • This article explains the concept of heteronormativity and how it affects young children 




Further reading

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