Theses Doctoral

Gender Policy-as-Practice with Young Children: The Politics of Gender-Justice in Early Childhood Education

Snaider, Carolina

Trans and queer children are experiencing discrimination starting in the earliest years of schooling. In a paradoxical era of increased support for transgender and queer children on the one hand, and persistent gender violence on the other, this study examines how the New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE) gender policy is taken up in Early Childhood Education practice.

In particular, I ask: (a) What are early childhood teachers’ understanding of NYCDOE’s policy? (b) How do the larger social and material contexts, shape teachers’ enactments of the policy? (c) What do teachers’ understandings and enactments of NYC gender policy look like in their everyday classroom practices?

I use a critical policy-as-practice conceptual framework that does not take policy for granted but understands that embedded in all the policy processes, there is always a great deal of negotiation of power, where some stakeholders are empowered and other perspectives are silenced. Through semi-structured interviews with district policymakers, school administrators, and early childhood teachers, this study unveils how different actors took up NYCDOE’s gender policy in their practice, in accordance with their own ideas, motivations, and broader social and material contexts.

Findings indicate that the policy formation processes excluded the knowledge and perspectives of school communities and grassroots trans activist movements. Principals and teachers had little knowledge of the Guidelines on Gender and resources available, while several policy content and procedures reproduced gender and racial violence. Moreover, the sediment construct of childhood innocence shaped early childhood teachers’ gender-justice practices. Shifting understandings of gender, without revising understandings of childhood, this study concludes, hinders the possibility of transformative change.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Curriculum and Teaching
Thesis Advisors
Yoon, Haeny S.
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
May 31, 2023