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Johns Hopkins study concludes there is no gay gene


Being gay is not in our genes.

Is being gay in our genes? Studies say no.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University recently released a study stating there was no conclusive evidence of a gene that causes a person to be gay, lesbian or transgender. People are not born with gay affections.

This study runs contrary to what some are suggesting in recent years.

The report was co-written by Johns Hopkins’ scholar in residence Lawrence Mayer who is also a statistics professor at Arizona State University and Paul McHugh a psychiatry professor at Johns Hopkins.

Many consider the two men as leading scholars on mental health in America. Mayer has taught at over eight universities including Stanford and Princeton and McHugh served as chief psychiatrist at Johns Hopkins for 25 years and was also elected to the President’s council on bio ethics.

In their report, entitled “Sexuality and Gender: Findings from the Biological, Psychological and Social Sciences” published in The New Atlantis, the two researchers surveyed over 200 studies done on the topic in a variety of fields.

They cited studies of identical twins, particularly one conducted in 2010 by a team led by psychiatric epidemiologist Niklas Langstrom. That study looked at homosexual rates among 3,826 twins.

It found among fraternal twin boys (not identical) if one was gay, there was a 11% chance the other twin also was.  Among identical twin boys there was an 18% chance. For fraternal twin girls there was a 17% chance and for identical twin girls 22%.

Since identical twins share exactly the same genes, if homosexuality is genetic then if one was gay, the other should be as well. Many other studies of identical twins have come to the same conclusion.

In the handful of studies that suggested a modest association between genetics and sexual orientation, Mayer and Hughes stated that they were unable to come up with a specific gene that affected sexual orientation.

In fact, neuroscientist Simon LeVay — the author of a 1991 study that activists often cite as evidence of a gay gene — stated publicly his work showed no such connection.

Mayer and McHugh noted LeVay’s response to that suggestion in a Discover magazine article “Sex and the Brain.” LeVay said:

“It’s important to stress what I didn’t find. I did not prove that homosexuality is genetic, or find a genetic cause for being gay. I didn’t show that gay men are ‘born that way,’ the most common mistake people make in interpreting my work. Nor did I locate a gay center in the brain.”

Though scans show small differences in the brains of heterosexuals and homosexuals, it could not be determined if this is how the people were born or if environmental factors caused the change.

Mayer and McHugh stated:

“One environmental factor that appears to be correlated with non-heterosexuality is childhood sexual abuse victimization, which may also contribute to the higher rates.”

They added:

“non-heterosexuals are about two to three times as like to have experienced childhood sexual abuse.”

The Johns Hopkins professors also cited studies of people who claimed same-sex attraction early in life that later changed. The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health compared the sexual orientation of children between the ages of 7 to 12 and then again at the ages of 20 to 25.

It showed that 80% of males who stated they had same-sex attraction at the earlier ages were 13 years later now exclusively heterosexual. For similar females over 50% declared themselves now exclusively heterosexual at the older age.

Mayer and McHugh concluded that sexual orientation is fluid and can change, suggesting genetics plays a very little role, if any.

Sources:

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