Defining Sexuality

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When hearing about the nature-nurture debate I often hear about criminal studies or personality differences and similarities in twins, but one very large debate concerning nature vs. nurture is that on homosexuality. Everyone has their own opinion on why someone is the sexual orientation that they are: some people think they were born that way, and others don't. In the article Homosexuality: Nature or Nurture the author, Ryan D. Johnson, takes a view at both sides of the debate. He gives facts about the biological debate, talking about different studies done on homosexual men's brains, finding that certain areas of the hypothalamus (area of the brain related to sexual drive and function) were significantly larger in gay males than in straight males. He then also talked about the nurture side of the debate, talking about ancient Greek cultures, and how different parents raise their children.
Even though the article showed both sides of the debate, it was quite clear that Johnson was biased in his opinion. I think that he believes that homosexuality is something someone is born with because he gives much more logical evidence towards that. Even when he talks about the impact of parent's behavior on a child's sexuality he discredits it by saying that gender roles shown in everyday life would then overturn the parents influences on sexual orientation. When reading this article I would agree with him that sexuality is more biologically influenced then socially when it comes to which gender someone choses to like, because of the evidence shown in the article.

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How do we know that the larger hypothalamus found in gay males causes homosexuality? They could be confusing correlation with causation. Could there be a third variable involved causing larger hypothalamus areas AND homosexuality?

I would agree with the above poster- I'm not convinced that a larger hypothalamus would cause homosexuality. Why would it? Let's grossly oversimplify the situation and say that the hypothalamus was the only part of the brain that had any effect on sexuality (obviously, its not). Even if an increase in size meant a change in behavior, wouldn't that mean that those with larger hypothalami would have increased sex drive? From what I understood, the hypothalamus is more like a regulatory part of the brain. Increasing its size might increase sex drive but it wouldn't change who someone was attracted to.

I would agree with your observation. Last semester, I wrote a research paper questioning whether the children of homosexual parents are just as succesful academically as their peers who have heterosexual parents. While looking for information on this subject, I discovered the fact that statistically children of gay parents are no more likely to become homosexual themselves than are children of straight parents. This definitely would support the claim that homosexuality is not fully a product of nurture. As a sidenote, I also discovered that children of homosexual parents are more succesful academically than children of single parents households and families with step parents. This fact certainly discredits the theory that homosexual couples could not be the heads of highly functioning family units.

Being a controversial topic, I think this is a very interesting way to look at sexuality. However, I don't agree with the hypothesis that the nature side causes homosexuality. As society has been becoming more and more accepting, there has been an increase in the number of open gay people. I believe this is because of the nurture side of the debate, where people and encouraged more to be themselves and homosexuality is more supported shown through many states legalizing gay marriage.

I find it interesting that there are a number of people that believe that a person can choose to be homosexual or not. Ask a homosexual person whether they chose to be and they'll respond with "no." It's just something they feel. Asking someone why they are homosexual is like asking someone why they are heterosexual. Also, why would someone choose to be made fun of, to be looked down on, or to not be able to marry the person that they love? All of these are negative actions that result in negative emotions. I don't know why someone would choose these things.

I find it interesting that there are a number of people that believe that a person can choose to be homosexual or not. Ask a homosexual person whether they chose to be and they'll respond with "no." It's just something they feel. Asking someone why they are homosexual is like asking someone why they are heterosexual. Also, why would someone choose to be made fun of, to be looked down on, or to not be able to marry the person that they love? All of these are negative actions that result in negative emotions. I don't know why someone would choose these things.

I think that this article brings up a very interesting question and a heated debate. Personally I think that homosexuality is something that you are born with, and I find it very interesting that the author wrote about how the hypothalamus is larger in homosexual males, I think that this is very legitimate evidence to back up the idea that it is more nature and not nurture. However, I am a firm believer that any trait has some of both nature and nurture that contribute to it. I think that a previous comment brought up a very interesting point about correlation vs. causation with the enlarged hypothalamus. It is something to ponder.

I also agree with the idea that the enlarged hypothalamus in homosexuals males compared to straight males is more of a correlation than a causation. There has recently been a lot of hype about scientists discovering a 'gay gene' (as well as an 'alcoholic' gene and 'addiction' gene and so forth). I definitely believe that homosexuality is determined by nature, although it is true that nurture can either encourage it or suppress it. I believe science is on the brink of discovering biological key components in sexuality, but I don't think the information we have yet is 100% concrete. Thanks for your post!

I think that there are very valid points from both sides of the debate. I can relate, because I have two homosexual relatives. They may have been born with a 'gay gene' but who really is to ever know. What i do know, from naturalistic observation, if you will, that one of their adopted children has now declared them self homosexual, yet the other is not. Both of the people being compared were from a sperm doner, so this may have affect, but you could also say that because of the life style's they were raised in and having two mothers compared to a mother and a father, that the environment they were placed in had a large effect on their sexuality.

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This page contains a single entry by leas0048 published on February 5, 2012 2:07 PM.

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