Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Top Ten Myths About Homosexuality (Part 1)



I will be posting a 5-part series on The Top Ten Myths About Homosexuality by Peter Sprigg and Family Research Council. The succeeding posts are based on facts and research and I hope that this will help dispel widespread myths, half-truths, and agenda-driven propaganda on homosexuality. Many thanks to a pro-life friend who posted this to our e-group.


Introduction

The homosexual activist movement is now over forty years old. Conservatives sometimes refer to the array of goals this movement has pursued—hate crime laws, employment “non-discrimination” laws, same-sex “marriage,” etc.—as “the homosexual agenda.”

Occasionally, we are mocked for the use of this term, as though we are suggesting that this movement represents some sinister and shadowy conspiracy. However, the term “agenda” is a perfectly neutral one. We in the pro-family movement certainly have our own “agenda.” Its elements include: protecting the safety and dignity of human life from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death; encouraging the practice of sexuality only within the context of marriage between one man and one woman; and promoting the natural family, headed by a married, biological mother and father, as the ideal setting for raising children. We are proud of this “agenda,” and will continue to vigorously pursue it.

By the same token, homosexual activists have a clear agenda as well. It is an agenda that demands the universal acceptance of homosexual acts and relationships—morally, socially, legally, religiously, politically and financially. Indeed, it calls for not only acceptance, but affirmation and celebration of this behavior as normal, natural, and even as desirable for those who desire it. There is nothing shadowy or secretive about this agenda—in fact, it has become nearly impossible to avoid encountering it.

There is at least one key difference between the “pro-family agenda” and the “pro-homosexual agenda.” In the case of the pro-family agenda, there is a growing and impressive body of social science research and other evidence confirming that the theoretical foundations of pro-family policies are sound, and that pro-family practices benefit society. New technologies like advanced ultrasound imaging and fetal surgery have confirmed the essential humanity of the unborn. Sexual relations outside of marriage have been shown to lead to an array of negative physical and psychological consequences. And social science research has clearly shown that children who are raised by their own, married, biological mother and father have a significant advantage in a broad range of outcome measures.

The same cannot be said of the homosexual agenda. In large measure, the pursuit of this agenda has involved an effort to define the benefits homosexuals seek as a matter of “civil rights,” comparable to that which African Americans fought for in the 1960’s; and to define disapproval of homosexual conduct as a form of “bigotry,” comparable to a racist ideology of white supremacy.

However, these themes only make sense if, in fact, a homosexual “orientation” is a characteristic that is comparable to race. But racial discrimination is not wrong merely because a group of people complained loudly and long that it is wrong. Racial discrimination is irrational and invidious because of what I call the five “I’s”—the fact that, as a personal characteristic, race is inborn, involuntary, immutable, innocuous and in the Constitution.

Homosexual activists would have us believe that the same is true of their homosexuality. They want us to believe that their homosexual “orientation” is something they are born with, cannot choose whether to accept or reject, and cannot change; and that it does no harm (to themselves or to society), while being protected by the principles of the Constitution.

However, these are empirical questions, subject to being verified or refuted based on the evidence. And the evidence produced by research has simply not been kind to this theoretical underpinning of the homosexual movement. It has become more and more clear that none of the “five-I” criteria apply to the choice to engage in homosexual conduct.

The homosexual movement is built, not on facts or research, but on mythology. Unfortunately, these myths have come to be widely accepted in society—particularly in schools, universities and the media. It is our hope that by understanding what these key myths are—and then reading a brief summary of the evidence against them—the reader will be empowered to challenge these myths when he or she encounters them.


Myth No. 1: People are born gay

Fact: The research does not show that anyone is “born gay,” and suggests instead that homosexuality results from a complex mix of developmental factors.

The widespread, popular belief that science has proven a biological or genetic origin to homosexuality can be traced to the publicity which surrounded three studies published in the early 1990’s. In August of 1991, researcher Simon LeVay published a study based on post-mortem examinations of the brains of cadavers. He concluded that differences in a particular brain structure suggested “that sexual orientation has a biological substrate.” In December of 1991, researchers J. Michael Bailey and Richard C. Pillard published a study of identical and fraternal twins and adoptive brothers, and found that “the pattern of rates of homosexuality . . . was generally consistent with substantial genetic influence.” Finally, in 1993, researcher Dean Hamer claimed to have found a specific “chromosomal region” containing “a gene that contributes to homosexual orientation in males.”

These studies suffered from serious methodological weaknesses, such as small sample sizes, non-random samples and even possible mis-classification of their subjects. Other scientists have been unable to replicate these dramatic findings. These problems led two psychiatrists to conclude:

“Critical review shows the evidence favoring a biologic theory to be lacking. . . . In fact, the current trend may be to underrate the explanatory power of extant psychosocial models.”

Subsequently, more rigorous studies of identical twin pairs have essentially made it impossible to argue for the genetic determination of homosexuality. Since identical (“monozygotic,” in the scientific literature) twins have identical genes, if homosexuality were genetically fixed at birth, we should expect that whenever one twin is homosexual, the other twin would be homosexual (a “concordance rate” of 100%) [A case in point, Richard and Raymond Gutierrez]. Even Michael Bailey himself, co-author of the landmark 1991 twins study (which supposedly found a concordance rate of about 50%), conducted a subsequent study on a larger sample of Australian twins. As summarized by other researchers, “They found twenty-seven identical male twin pairs where at least one of the twin brothers was gay, but in only three of the pairs was the second twin brother gay as well” (a “concordance rate” of only eleven percent).

Researchers Peter Bearman and Hannah Br├╝ckner, from Columbia and Yale respectively, studied data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, and found even lower concordance rates of only 6.7% for male and 5.3% for female identical twins. In fact, their study neatly refuted several of the biological theories for the origin of homosexuality, finding social experiences in childhood to be far more significant:

The pattern of concordance (similarity across pairs) of same-sex preference for sibling pairs does not suggest genetic influence independent of social context. Our data falsify the hormone transfer hypothesis by isolating a single condition that eliminates the opposite-sex twin effect we observe—the presence of an older same-sex sibling. We also consider and reject a speculative evolutionary theory that rests on observing birth-order effects on same-sex orientation. In contrast, our results support the hypothesis that less gendered socialization in early childhood and preadolescence shapes subsequent same-sex romantic preferences.

If it was not clear in the 1990’s, it certainly is now—no one is “born gay.”

-oOo-

Myth No. 2: Sexual orientation can never change.

Fact: Thousands of men and women have testified to experiencing a change in their sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual. Research confirms that such change does occur—sometimes spontaneously, and sometimes as a result of therapeutic interventions.

When talking about “sexual orientation,” one important clarification must be made. While most people assume that “sexual orientation” is one trait and clearly defined, this is not the case. “Sexual orientation” is actually an umbrella term for three quite different phenomena—a person’s sexual attractions or desires; a person’s sexual behavior; and a person’s self-identification, either publicly or internally (as “gay,” lesbian, “straight,” etc.). While we tend to assume that a person with homosexual attractions will also engage in homosexual relationships and self-identify as “gay” or “lesbian,” survey research on human sexuality clearly shows that this is not the case. An individual’s sexual attractions, sexual behavior and sexual self-identification are not always consistent with each other, let alone static over time.

This understanding sheds new light on the question of whether “homosexuality is a choice.” Homosexual attractions are clearly not a “choice” in the vast majority of cases. However, it would actually be insulting to people with same-sex attractions to suggest that they are compelled to act on those attractions. Homosexual conduct (if it is consensual) clearly is a choice—as is self-identifying as “gay” or “lesbian.” One’s self-identification can be changed at will, as can one’s sexual behavior (although perhaps with difficulty—just as other behavioral habits such as overeating can be changed).

Although much attention has been focused on counseling techniques or therapies for unwanted same-sex attractions and on the work of “ex-gay” ministries, there is startling evidence that considerable numbers of people experience significant change in some aspects of sexual orientation, particularly their behavior, quite spontaneously, without therapeutic intervention. For example, two studies have found that a large percentage (46% in one survey,9 and more than half in another10) of all men who have ever engaged in homosexual conduct did so only before age 15 and never since.

One’s internal sexual desires or attractions are undoubtedly the most difficult aspect of “sexual orientation” to change, but the evidence demonstrates that many people have experienced change in that way as well. Some people in therapy have experienced significant reductions in their same-sex attractions, even when that was not the goal of therapy, as a result of the resolution of other personal issues in their lives. One “meta-analysis” combining data from thirty studies on reorientation therapy, conducted between 1954 and 1994, showed that 33% of subjects had made some shift toward heterosexuality. Similarly, a survey of over 800 individuals who had participated in a variety of efforts to change from a homosexual orientation found that 34.3% had shifted “to an exclusively or almost exclusively heterosexual orientation.” The most methodologically rigorous (prospective and longitudinal) study yet conducted, on subjects who had sought change through religious ministries, which was published in a 414-page book, showed that 38% achieved success, defined as either “substantial conversion to heterosexual attraction” (15%) or “chastity” with homosexual attraction “either missing or present only incidentally.”

One of the strongest pieces of evidence for the possibility of change came from an unlikely source—Dr. Robert Spitzer, a psychiatrist who was instrumental in the pivotal 1973 decision of the American Psychiatric Association to remove homosexuality from its official list of mental disorders. Spitzer studied two hundred people who had reported some measure of change from a homosexual to a heterosexual orientation as a result of what is sometimes called “reparative therapy” for unwanted same-sex attractions. He concluded:

The changes following reparative therapy were not limited to sexual behavior and sexual orientation self-identity. The changes encompassed sexual attraction, arousal, fantasy, yearning, and being bothered by homosexual feelings. The changes encompassed the core aspects of sexual orientation.

This is not to say that change is easy, that it is typically accomplished through prayer or willpower alone, or that the success of reorientation therapy can be guaranteed. However, personal testimonies, survey data and clinical research all make clear that change from a predominantly homosexual to a predominantly heterosexual orientation is possible.


(Source: Family Research Council)

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