By Corinne Murdock
A professor hailing from China with a World Economic Forum (WEF) background is behind critical race and gender theory research on children at two of Arizona’s taxpayer-funded universities.
Sonya Xinyue Xiao teaches psychological science and performs developmental research on moral and gender development at Northern Arizona University (NAU). Xiao was a postdoctoral scholar at the Arizona State University (ASU) T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics (SSFD) from 2020 to 2022, where she taught until last year. NAU has Xiao on a tenure track.
Presently, Xiao is also an affiliated research fellow for the Cultural Resilience and Learning Center (CRLC) in California and a member of the Diversity Scholars Network in the National Center for Institutional Diversity at the University of Michigan (UM). Xiao’s UM profile declares her social priority on children, youth, and families, with her specific focus pertaining to that priority on gender, sexuality, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, social class, and socioeconomic status.
“[Xiao] is investigating how early adolescents’ multiple intersecting identities in gender and race/ethnicity are related to their prosocial behavior toward diverse others over time, with youth from diverse ethnic racial backgrounds,” stated her UM profile.
Additionally, Xiao has served as the programming committee member for the Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE) Caucus of the Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD) since 2021. The SRCD has repeatedly opposed efforts to restrict or ban gender transitions for minors.
Xiao’s published research papers have declared the need for parents to raise their children to embrace gender theory in themselves and their peers, under the claim that rejection results in poor social and emotional outcomes later in life, as well as to engage their children in diverse friendships, under the claim that those as young as preschoolers can be racist.
Characteristics aligning with progressive critical race and gender theories are what Xiao defines as “prosocial behaviors” throughout her research
Last year, Xiao contributed to a chapter entry in a book, “Gender and Sexuality Development.” The chapter expanded the understanding of gender to many gender identities.
Xiao’s work includes “gender integration,” which studies the differences between genders with the ultimate goal of total integration. Xiao’s team with the T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics (SSSFD) holds the belief that gender is fluid and not binary; they receive federal funding through the Institute of Education Sciences (IES).
Xiao’s research has also relied on participants’ self-reported gender identities. Elsewhere, her current research team’s most recent release of preliminary findings asked children “how much they think they look like girls and how much they think they look like boys,” and reported that 10 percent thought they looked like both genders, and nearly one percent believing they didn’t look like either gender.
In May, Xiao’s work on gender integration was featured in an IES blog series focusing on “research conducted through an equity lens.” SSSFD professor Carol Martin said that their work aims to achieve diversity, equity, and inclusion in education. Martin further insisted that teachers need to break up naturally-occuring gender segregation in their students to encourage diversity.
“We study the importance of having diverse classrooms (mixed-gender in our case) and breaking down barriers that separate people from each other but stress that this diversity matters only when it is perceived as inclusive and fosters a sense of belonging,” said Martin. “For some students, additional supports might be needed to feel included, and we hope to identify which students may need these additional supports and what types of support they need to promote equity in classrooms around issues of social belongingness.”
According to her LinkedIn, Xiao attended Tianjin University of Science and Technology before beginning her career as a teacher at Zhenguang Primary School in Shanghai, China. While at Tianjin, Xiao had two notable back-to-back volunteering stints in 2010: first, a two-month gig at the Shanghai World EXPO 2010, then a month-long gig at the World Economic Forum (WEF) Summer Davos. For the latter gig with the WEF, Xiao reported providing document and verbal translation at the Lishunde Hotel, as well as assistance to conference attendees.
China’s practice of its cultural subversion tactics on U.S. soil, especially involving children, have been widely reported over the years, most recently concerning TikTok. While the Beijing-based company behind the app pushes content ranging from the mind-numbing to dangerous to foreigners, it restricts Chinese youth to a domestic version, Douyin, which contains only educational and inspirational content. In its short existence, TikTok has become a major influence in American children’s development.
Papers published while at ASU or NAU where Xiao was the principal author are listed below:
- Meet Up Buddy Up: An Effective Intervention To Promote 4th Grade Students’ Prosocial Behavior Toward Diverse Others
- Parents Matter: Accepting Parents Have Less Anxious Gender Expansive Children
- Family Economic Pressure And Early Adolescents’ Prosocial Behavior: The Importance Of Considering Types Of Prosocial Behavior
- Parents’ Valuing Diversity And White Children’s Prosociality Toward White And Black Peers
- Being Helpful To Other-Gender Peers: School-Age Children’s Gender-Based Intergroup Prosocial Behavior
- Interactions With Diverse Peers Promote Preschoolers’ Prosociality And Reduce Aggression: An Examination Of Buddy-Up Intervention
- Young Adults’ Intergroup Prosocial Behavior And Its Associations With Social Dominance Orientation, Social Positions, Prosocial Moral Obligations, And Belongingness
- Early Adolescents’ Gender Typicality And Depressive Symptoms: The Moderating Role Of Parental Acceptance
- A Double-Edged Sword: Children’s Intergroup Gender Attitudes Have Social Consequences For The Beholder
- Gender Differences Across Multiple Types Of Prosocial Behavior In Adolescence: A Meta-Analysis Of The Prosocial Tendency Measure-Revised
- Characteristics Of Preschool Gender Enforcers And Peers Who Associate With Them
- Will They Listen To Me? An Examination Of In-Group Gender Bias In Children’s Communication Beliefs
- Longitudinal Relations Of Preschoolers’ Anger To Prosocial Behavior: The Moderating Role Of Dispositional Shyness.
Xiao has also contributed in over a dozen other research papers uplifting critical race and gender theories, as well as promoting “nurturant parenting,” described as inductive discipline and punishment avoidance, versus the disciplinary model of “restrictive parenting,” described as punitiveness, corporal punishment, and strictness. That paper on nurturant versus restrictive parenting further advised that white parents should avoid restrictive parenting to ensure their children behaved better toward non-white peers.
Other papers to which Xiao contributed argued that white parents who claimed to be color-blind or were displaying evidence of “implicit racial bias” caused their children to have less empathy toward Black children.
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