Friday, August 27, 2010

Homophobia and Transphobia - Illumination Project Curriculum – 2010 - Andrew S. Forshee, Ph.D., Early Education & Family Studies - Portland Community College, Portland, Oregon

An active “toolkit” of terminology helps support the ongoing dialogue, questioning, and understanding about issues of homophobia and transphobia. Clear definitions also provide a context and platform for discussion.

Homophobia: a psychological term originally developed by Weinberg (1973) to define an irrational hatred, anxiety, and or fear of homosexuality. More recently, homophobia is a term used to describe the fear, discomfort, intolerance, or hatred of homosexuality or samesex attraction in others and in oneself (internalized homophobia) (GLSEN, 2002). Examples of homophobia include hate crimes, derogatory comments, jokes that slander, denial of services, and other oppressive actions or beliefs (Bonner Curriculum, 2009). According to Kantor (2009, p. 11), homophobia is categorized into six specific models:

1. Medical Homophobia: the notion that gay, lesbian, and bisexual people are ill and unfit to engage in specific familial and or social opportunities (e.g., raise children, teach, etc.).

2. Religious Homophobia: the idea that gay, lesbian, and bisexual individuals are sinful based on any particular faithbase,and may be cured as a result of prayer or other forms of intervention (e.g., reparative therapies).

3. Criminal Homophobia: the fear that gay, lesbian, and bisexual people are committing deplorable illegal acts, including pedophilia.

4. Political Homophobia: the perspective that lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals are good “common cause enemies” for those who want to advance on the social and political ladder (e.g., attracting the conservative vote).

5. Sociocultural Homophobia: the idea that lesbian, gay, and bisexual people live underground and corrupt lives, and “wish” social discord and chaos on the general population. Sociocultural homophobia also upholds the perspective that samesex couples flaunt their affection, wish to dismantle traditional family values, and push their lifestyle on others (e.g., gay pride parades, holding hands in public, samesex marriage).

6. Biological Homophobia: the belief that lesbian, gay, and bisexual people are genetically defective. This perspective also upholds that if there is a genetic “link” to homosexuality, then there must be a cure.

Heterosexism: a system of power, privilege, and advantage that deems heterosexuality as the superior or “normal” sexuality (GLSEN, 2002; Griffin, D’Errico, Harro, & Schiff, 2007). Similar to racism or sexism, heterosexism describes a system that tokenizes, marginalizes individuals based on sexual orientation (Bonner Curriculum, 2009). Heterosexism is perpetuated in all areas of society, including civic organizations, media outlets, financial institutions, educational environments, human services, and faithbased institutions.

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