teacher and child play with colorful ring toys
As early childhood professionals, we are uniquely positioned to challenge biases before they become entrenched beliefs that lead to harm and to move our field closer to the equitable world that we envision.

About Early Pride Matters

A resource for

educators on

the front lines of

social change

The Loyola University Chicago School of Education initiated the Early Pride Matters project in 2022 to help early childhood educators build inclusive and affirming early childhood communities and inspire them to become changemakers in their field.

Why are inclusion and affirmation so important in the context of early childhood education? Young children are not too young to notice or understand these concepts. As they absorb information about their world, early learners explore complex ideas through their interactions and play. By early elementary school, children internalize and act on attitudes and biases that they have learned from family members, friends, caregivers, and educators.

How many of us have overheard children or adults making comments such as: “That color is for girls” or “Boys shouldn’t play with those”? These are just two examples of biases that shape a child’s worldview during the first five years of life. When we fail to address these biases—or allow misinformation about LBGTQ+ families and educators to persist—we may inadvertently reinforce the social inequities that we hope to correct.

Early Pride Matters has seven core objectives:

  1. To mitigate ongoing harm to LGBTQ+ teachers, LGBTQ+ led families and gender-diverse children
  2. To build early childhood educators’ knowledge about healthy gender identity and development, LGBTQ+ families and LGBTQ+ teachers
  3. To share examples of inclusive classroom activities that benefit all children from birth to age five
  4. To demonstrate how educators can work toward LGBTQ+ inclusion while addressing early childhood learning standards and ethical guidelines
  5. To provide teaching guides for engaging and inclusive children’s books
  6. To promote safer and more supportive early learning workplaces for LGBTQ+ early childhood educators, with administrators and colleagues who understand their experiences, needs and assets
  7. To create a positive online community of early childhood educators focused on diversity, inclusion and equity

Why our work is vital

LGBTQ+ people must spend so much time and energy defending their humanity that it can be challenging to maintain a strong vision of what a world with full representation, inclusion and equity would look like. This is, in part, why allies like you are so critical to achieving social justice.

The stakes have never been higher. Recently, hate groups have intensified their efforts to erase LGBTQ+ people from public life and criminalize research-based, developmentally appropriate teaching practices that are aligned with the ethical and educational standards of our profession.

Decades of research have documented the harm that these attacks have caused to children, families and teachers. By leveraging the information and resources on this website, you can help us fight back.

About Loyola University Chicago

Loyola University Chicago is a Jesuit, Catholic university with a rich heritage of faith and an enduring commitment to social justice. Our mission is rooted in the spirituality of St. Ignatius Loyola, who believed that it is imperative to act upon what is learned—and to use our values in service to humanity. The real measure of our Jesuit university’s effectiveness lies in who our students become; therefore, we are called to engage with real-world social justice issues and make a difference as “persons for others.” Loyola’s nondiscrimination policy, DEI initiatives and ongoing initiatives such as the JEDI Award program all reflect the university’s ongoing efforts to address the world’s inequities and promote social justice.

About the Loyola University Chicago School of Education

The School of Education at Loyola University Chicago supports the Jesuit ideal of knowledge in the service of humanity. We endeavor to advance equity in education in service of social justice, engaged with Chicago, the nation and the world. In pursuit of our vision, the School of Education participates in the discovery, development, demonstration, and dissemination of professional knowledge and practice within a context of ethics, service to others and social justice. Our mission is social justice, but our responsibility is social action through education and research.

About the Caplan Foundation for Early Childhood

The Caplan Foundation for Early Childhood is an incubator of promising research and development projects that appear likely to improve the welfare of young children from infancy through age seven in the United States. Welfare is broadly defined to include physical and mental health, safety, nutrition, education, play, familial support, acculturation, societal integration, and child care. The Caplan Foundation’s goal is to provide seed money to implement those imaginative proposals that exhibit the greatest chance of improving the lives of young children, on a national scale.