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LGBTQ: Nature or Nurture?

Carina Tedesco

I was born with blue eyes, and I have blue eyes today. I was born with fair skin, and other than the occasional summer tan, that has not changed to this day.

Through scientific research and common knowledge, I accept these facts to be true; the color of my natural hair and my shoe size were not determined by where I live nor how my parents raised me.

I was born quiet, stubborn and athletic, and according to research done at The University of Edinburgh’s School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences, my surrounding environment only minimally affected these personality traits.

The line that determines if sexual orientation and gender identity are in direct correspondence to one’s genetics or if they are instead a byproduct of the environment in which one was raised is much more ill–defined than that of one’s physical appearance and personality traits.

As the LGBTQ+ community has recently become more accepted, scientists have dug into a question that many have: Is sexual orientation determined by one’s genetics, or is it a result of the environment in which one is raised?

Current scientific research on this topic is, for the most part, small-scaled and flawed. Because of the small scales due to limited test subjects, there are obvious problems.

Although this research is still minimal and nowhere close to perfect, there are at least seven professional studies of this nature done on twins. This is a great enough number to identify a general trend.

The New York Times writer Nicholas D. Kristof explains the results of these studies, writing that, “If there is a genetic component to homosexuality, one would expect identical twins to share sexual orientation more than fraternal twins, and that is indeed the case. An identical twin of a gay person is about twice as likely to be gay as a fraternal twin would be.”

The journal Personality and Individual Differences published a study which concluded that 50-60 percent of sexual orientation is determined by genetics. While most people accept that sexual orientation is in some part determined by one’s genetics, researcher at the University of London, Qazi Rahman, boldly states that “There is now very strong evidence from almost two decades of ‘biobehavioral’ research that human sexual orientation is predominantly biologically determined.”

Although it is proven that sexual orientation is somewhat affected by one’s genetics, genes do not have complete control over behavioral traits.

For example, there is a genetic element to alcoholism and addiction, but it is also in large part a result of one’s environment. If someone has a strong genetic history of addiction, but grows up in a community that discourages and forbids alcohol, it is rare that this person will develop alcoholism.

In cultures where homosexuality is more largely accepted, we see greater rates of homosexualss than in cultures where it is shunned.

Marcia Malory, a writer for The Scientific American, explains in her article “Is Homosexuality a Choice?” that “Most Americans would probably be nauseated if they learned that, when they thought they had been eating beef, they were, in fact, eating dog, even though there is nothing inherently unhealthy about dog meat. What you have learned about homosexuality as you were growing up will affect whether you consider engaging in homosexual acts to be desirable or disgusting.”

The LGBTQ+ community itself has shown split opinions on this research. Some appreciate the studies, as they feel that it is helping prove that their sexuality is part of who they are, rather than a choice they make. Others feel as though these studies portray the LGBTQ+ community as “defective.”

 

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