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University receives $138,000 in federal grant money to study preschoolers' gender identity

The University of Washington received $138,000 in federal grant money to study gender development in children ages 4 to 6. (Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)

The National Science Foundation has awarded more than $130,000 in grant money to a university that plans to study gender identity development in young children between the ages of 4 and 6.

NSF, an independent federal agency tasked with promoting the progress of science, gave the $138,000 grant to the University of Washington over the summer for the two-year project, which will more closely examine how "internal sense of gender" and environmental factors influence gender identity.

"Prominent theories of gender development have discussed the degree to which gender identity results from an internal sense of gender and socialization processes," the grant reads. "However, tests of these theories have been limited because, for most children, internal gender identity and environmental socialization substantially overlap, rendering it impossible to distinguish the relative impact of each factor on gender development."

"Specifically, this grant supports the investigation of whether established theories (e.g., Social Learning Theory, Social Cognitive Theory, Gender Schema Theory) can account for a wider range of human gender experiences," it adds.

The researchers plan to interview 250 children between 4 and 6 years of age, along with their parents, about gendered socialization, sense of gender identity, and gendered behavior, such as whether the child has a preference for gender-typed toys.

"These measures will allow the researchers to examine the relative contributions of internal gender identity and socialization and ultimately provide a more comprehensive theory accounting for early gender development," the grant summary concluded.

The study, which officially began July 1, is slated to continue through July 2019.

According to the Washington Free Beacon, the top researchers for the study, Kristina Olson and Selin Gülgöz, are also involved in the university's "TransYouth Project," a study featured in National Geographic's "Gender Revolution" documentary that examines gender development and the mental health of transgender children ages 3 through 12.

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