from "Born that way" theory
by Roy Waller and Linda Nicolosi
October, 2003-- A British study just published in the October issue of Behavioral Neuroscience claims to find contributing biological factors for homosexuality.
The study--which was conducted among only a small number of subjects, and found modest differences between groups--added some evidence to a recent body of research that suggests that for some people, biological factors contribute to homosexual development.
The factors identified in this and other studies seem to be factors that masculinize females and feminize males, which results in gender-atypical development.
Yet an October 6, 2003 article by reporter Amanda Gardner in Health Day News, and trumpeted on the internet by Yahoo, mischaracterizes the study's scope and findings with the headline, "Startling Study Says People May Be Born Gay."
The first sentence of Gardner's article adds, "The origins of sexual orientation may be evident in the blink of an eye."
The basis of the study, conducted by Qazi Rahman of the University of East London, is a technique known as "pre-pulse inhibition," or PPI. The main premise of PPI is that when people are startled by a loud noise they involuntarily blink their eyes, but when the test sound is preceded by a quieter noise, this appears to inhibit the response to the second, louder sound. PPI is used in tests to gauge certain inborn human responses and characteristics.
For purposes of the study, the 59 gay and straight men and women participants were subjected to both noises--first the louder noise alone, followed by the softer and louder sounds, and their responses were compared. The goal was to determine the differences, if any, between the responses of homosexual and straight men and also gay and straight women, as well as any possible similarities between homosexual men and heterosexual women and straight men and gay women. The attempt was to use the data collected from the PPI responses to demonstrate a bridge between a genetic cause of homosexuality and an automatic human response.
The researcher sought to find an automatic physiological response that was not developed as a result of learning or social interaction. He decided to employ startle responses, which are involuntary and instinctual.
In terms of statistics, Rahman's study presents the following findings:
The researchers appeared unaware on the recent finding that homosexually oriented individuals have been found to exhibit a significantly higher level of psychiatric problems than the general population. Nor were they evidently aware that the reasons for the high rate of problems have not been identified.
"Although homosexuality per se is not related to psychiatric problems," Rachman states, "on those occasions that gays and lesbians do present with psychiatric problems, they often show disorders that are typical of the opposite sex."
The recent study correlated with findings of reorientation theorists, who generally agree that biological factors lay the foundation for gender-atypical feelings and behavior in some people. This sets the stage for feelings of differentness from their own biological sex.
However, because other factors besides biology are known to influence gender identity, reorientation therapists do not believe that inborn gender-atypical traits mean that a person was "born gay."