Homosexuality: Nature vs. Nurture

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There are many nature vs. nurture disputes going on today. One of the biggest disputes revolves around homosexuality and whether it is inherited or if it is a result of your environment. The first article I read is called "What Makes People Gay?". This article talks about a variety of studies done on areas of the brain regarding homosexuality. One of the most ground-breaking studies involves the area of the brain called the 'hypothalamus', and this region is shown to be two times larger in heterosexual men. This is said to be the "nature" side of the argument. There is also several other studies done on the nature-end involving sex hormone distribution in the womb and how if these sex hormones aren't distributed to a male fetus during their fetal stages, then they could continue on the path of the female brain (and with their attraction to men). The "nurture" side of a homosexuality debate is typically more controversial. People assume that if homosexuality isn't embedded into your brain, then you have chosen it in your upbringing. When people assume someone is gay by choice, many think it is unnatural, sinful, and some have even considered it a disease. (Refer to second article) Many claim that if homosexuality is a choice, then people have chosen it to be rebellious, or because someone they know has chosen homosexuality.
My reaction to these two articles is kind of surprised! I really had no knowledge that people had actually found relativity between homosexuality and the brain. Now that I know this, I think it is far more plausible that homosexuality is genetically related. I never thought gay people had chosen to be gay, but this confirms it in a sense for me. As far as environmental factors, I think the most contribution from their environments comes from the environment in the womb (where the sex hormones are distributed). Nature and Nurture both contribute in my opinion. Other factors that could contribute are environmental factors such as how many brothers you have, which is statistically shown (for gay men) to increase their chances of homosexuality. However, I don't think these contributions are statistically significant.article_gay_pride-739745.jpg


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This post was very interesting to me as GLBTQ (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) rights are so heavily debated all around us. A majority of the arguments against GLBTQ rights seem to focus around the idea that it is a lifestyle choice, and an unnatural and wrong one. However, studies such as the one you explain offer strong evidence that homosexuality is inherited.

This is a great application of the nature vs. nurture debate that we have been discussing.

Eryn, I agree that the biological differences between straight and gay men are really interesting to consider! There are some interesting evolutionary hypotheses about why same-sex relationship/sexual preferences are about equally prevalent in all human cultures; one possibility is related to kin selection, which describes " apparent strategies in evolution that favor the reproductive success of an organism's relatives, even at a cost to the organism's own survival and reproduction. " The basic idea is that gay (or "androphilic", in anthropology-speak) men are like "unattached uncles", able to provide more care for their siblings' offspring since they have fewer offspring of their own. However, this theory is pretty easy to poke holes in! Can any of you come up with reasons why this might not be a good theory?

Nature-nurture aside: EVEN IF homosexuality is a product of environmental conditions or a "choice", treatment of homosexuality as a bad thing that will somehow negatively affect society a good example of some very dark/nasty aspects of human psychology. (Read that article at your own risk, it is VERY sad).

This is just another huge part in the nature/nurture debate. It is really interesting to read about how heterosexual males have larger hypothalamuses than homosexuals. I wonder if thats causation though or why the effect is. Interesting to see what we learn in the future!

It was interesting to see that heterosexual males have a larger hypothalamus. I was wondering if there is another part in the brain that is larger in homosexual males to make up for the smaller hypothalamus. The part about the hormones aren't distributed is definitely seems to make sense, but I am guessing that many more studies will be done to help prove this.

I remember asking about this very idea in an Anthropology of Human Nature course and my professors response seemed to match most of the information you've provided. I'm glad genetics can answer questions like these. Hopefully, GLBTQ rights grow given the past implications and propaganda being disproved. How much have you looked into the "more gay brother by sub-sequence?" Seems really interesting.

I am very pleased to hear that this very controversial debate is gaining ground on the scientific side of the argument. The enlarged Thalamus in heterosexual males is very interesting, and as mentioned above it is interesting to see the causation and the effect that it has. I agree that it much more plausible that nature is more of a determent than nurture on this issue. It’s interesting to see responses to homosexuality and to see why people would think that others chose to be socially ostracized and ridiculed for their private lives.

I found this entry very fascinating! I knew of the debate about whether homosexuality is chosen or if that's the way people are born but I had no clue about the debate of nature and nurture. This also supports my beliefs that it is not a choice, but that's just how they were born. One clarification question: why is the hypothalamus bigger in heterosexual men? What is the relation?

I think that this was a very interesting blog to read. What I was most surprised me the most while reading it was that a homosexual male tend to have a hypothalamus twice as large as their heterosexual counterparts. I also think it's interested over the debate if homosexuality is choice or if it is caused by other factors like genes.

This is a very interesting entry and I enjoyed reading about the different articles you read. I agree with you that homosexuality is not something that people chose, however I never knew that a correlation existed between homosexuality and the brain. I truly do not believe that nurture is a factor in homosexuality and learning about that existing correlation between the brain and ones sexual orientation was enlightening.

This has always been an interesting debate for me. I think that a lot of it has to do with both factors. However, as I've been learning in my biology of sex class, there are many species who are homosexual meaning that it is entirely based on nature. One reason as to why this would be evolutionary beneficial is because there is an unequal gender distribution in the world, so when same-sexes are paired together, it helps. It's a really interesting concept.

The whole argument nature vs. nurture is not right in my opinion. I believe it is both nature and nurture that has to deal with the offspring of the individual. Many studies, dealing with identical and fraternal twins, that focus on knowledge or anything like those sorts, show both nature or the genetic side that has a major role in the upbringing but it is not a full correlation meaning that nurture does play a key role.

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This page contains a single entry by adams968 published on February 5, 2012 7:35 PM.

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