RUNNING HEAD: Global Homophobia
Global homophobia: The case of Uganda
(Global/national/local social paper #1)
Joelyn K. Foy
Dr. Kay Ann Taylor
In partial fulfillment of the requirements for
EDCI 886, Perspectival Philosophy: Social Construction
Kansas State University
September 15, 2010
American conservatives are exporting homophobia to the African nation of Uganda
(Kaoma, 2009; May-Chang, 2010). Homophobia, the hatred of homosexuality, did not originate
in the United States, but the social upheaval caused by homophobia in the U.S. is daily news. In
addition, a student who is lesbian, bisexual, gay or transgendered (LGBT) will hear homophobic
remarks in school, feel unsafe in school because of personal characteristics, experience
harassment and possibly assault in school, and will miss classes or days of school because of
safety issues (Kosciw et al., 2010, xv). When we ask the question, “What is school?” or “What
is schooling?”, for LGBT students, school is harassment, bullying, and violence (HRC, 2009).
School as the reproduction of socio-cultural values that culminated in the 1950’s (May-Chang,
2010, p. 5) may not be applicable in the 21st century to all school children (Counts,
1932/1959/1978, p. 15). I approach the social problem of global homophobia from the radical
point of view (Stone, 2003, p. 108); that is, getting to the root of this problem which affects the
school environment locally and nationally.
The Origins of Homophobia
One of the origins of homophobia is described by Michel Foucault in Discipline &
Punish (1975/1995). In the 17th and 18th centuries the military and the manufactory reproduced
the monastery through the creation of “docile bodies” (Foucault, 1975/1995, p. 135). By
enclosing and partitioning workers, the forces of production were concentrated under one roof
and carefully monitored (p. 142, 143). Enclosure, however, led to conversation, congregation,
desertion, and distraction; thereby lowering worker production. Partitioning promoted
supervision of individual conduct, “to assess it, to judge it, to calculate its qualities or merits” (p.
143). It was believed that “solitude was necessary to both body and soul, … they must, at certain
moments at least, confront temptation and perhaps the severity of God alone” (Foucault, 1975-
1995, p. 143). Even in the girl’s dormitories beds were arranged and enclosed such that “girls
may rise and retire without being seen” (Delamare quoted in Foucault, 1975/1995, p. 143). The
monastic tradition of celibacy was reproduced within the factory model.
Homophobia in Uganda
The President of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, proposed an “anti-homosexuality” bill in
2009 but because of global attention, it was tabled. In its stead an anti-pornography bill has been
drafted because of a belief that “pornography breeds homosexuality” (Smith & Magga, 2010).
This proposed legislation “calls for the death penalty for gays and lesbians who engaged in sex
and are HIV positive, have committed the offense of homosexuality more than once” (May-
Chang, 2010, p. 1) and provides that any person or organization that provides “material or
advocacy support to or on behalf of LGBT people (p. 1) will be prosecuted. Homosexuality has
been illegal in Uganda since colonial times, but recently the influence of American conservatives
and American churches have escalated the cry for genocide against LGBT citizens in Uganda.
Two authors of the anti-homosexuality bill in Uganda are members of a secret organization in
the United States known as “The Family” (May-Chang, 2010, p. 3).
Exporting Homophobia from America
The Family, as it is called, began in 1948 (Sharlet, 2009, p. 2) -- the year the United
Nations Declaration of Human Rights was first adopted (UN, 2010). The Family is organized
around cells and small groups of leaders, a kind of “populist fundamentalism” (Sharlet, 2009, p.
2). As far as I can tell, the members of The Family are privileged, White men; current members
include recognizable conservatives Senator Sam Brownback (R., Kansas), Chuck Grassley (R.,
Iowa), and James Inhofe (R., Oklahoma). Former members of The Family include: former
Nixon aide and Watergate fellow Charles W. Colson, the late senator Strom Thurmond (R., S.
Carolina), Herman Talmadge (Georgia), Pat Robertson’s father, Absalom Willis Robertson
(Virginia), and Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist (p. 2). The strategy of The Family
revolves around secrecy, stealthiness, and avoiding the label of being a Christian organization
(Sharlet, 2009). Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni is The Family’s “key man” in Africa
(May-Chang, 2010, p. 5; Sharlet, 2009, p. 4).
Implications for Secondary Classrooms
When a student walks into a classroom, how does the teacher respond? Does the teacher
have an immediate reaction to the way the student is dressed? To the student’s affect? To the
student’s voice? Having been a student most of my life, these immediate responses are noticed
and felt. When that student is LGBT, the reaction is frequently negative. How will teacher
education programs prepare mostly White, middle-class, females to respond to LGBT students if
those teacher candidates are not LGBT themselves? How will teacher education faculty
motivate teacher candidates to notice and question their immediate reactions to students unlike
themselves? One answer to these questions is to include in teacher education discussion of
difficult societal issues like homophobia. All teachers have biases; bias is a quality of being
human. We are bombarded daily by opinion, news, and ideas that we may not have encountered
in our hometowns or our immediate families. However, for LGBT kids in middle school and
high school, the teacher who stops the name-calling; the teacher who will not allow “that’s so
gay” to be said in their classroom; the teacher who listens when that student talks; that teacher
becomes a safe person for that kid. That teacher’s classroom becomes a safe space for that child
and learning (Meyer, 2010, p. 112) is more likely to occur for that student.
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