An academic has called for the concept of marriage equality and gender and sexuality education to be introduced into preschools across Victoria.

Melbourne University research fellow Kylie Smith, a contributor to the education curriculum in Victoria, has published a paper about the importance of political activism in the early childhood sector.

In her recently published paper, titled “And the princesses married and lived happily ever after: challenging compulsory heterosexuality in the early childhood classroom”, Dr Smith said classrooms needed to challenge entrenched ideas about “gender and sexuality identity formation”.

It is imperative that we draw on anti-bias principles in the classroom to challenge stereotypical beliefs about being ‘male’ and ‘female’,” she wrote.

Dr Smith said some educators held the view that children were too young or innocent to understand when they were speaking or acting in sexist or homophobic ways.

She claimed childhood educators should “push back on dominant discourses”, challenging inherent biases and opening up “possibilities for children to imagine different futures that represent their identity performances”.

We should teach children about what is fair and unfair about how children include and exclude each other based on gender and sexuality related to themselves and their family,” she wrote.

Dr Smith’s paper comes in the wake of the controversial Safe Schools Coalition, which was criticised by some for having an LGBTI agenda.

A federal government review subsequently found the program contained some elements deemed inappropriate for younger students.

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