There are problems in contemporary science, that some researches are influenced by researchers opinion.
(One problem is, that Even in the physics, there is very known problem, that prejudice affects the result of an experiment!
Another problem: it was discussed e.g. in conjunction with economic science, which is in the USA/World scale under reign of only one body of economic opinion and leaving other economic streams being suppressed. It is believed, that this was one of the cause of the world financial crises of 2008.
Still another problem is big pressure to meet political correctness… )
About homosexuality, absolute majority of opinions are polarized…
So please, do you know any researche(s) of homosexuality, what are well balanced or realy independent?
Especially, I would like to learn, what types of homosexuality are there (is some type of homosexuality changeable? some type, what is possible to "heal"? how about combination with heterosexuality? exists some known causes for homosexuality? gene? how about those, who claim, that were "healed from homosexuality?)
If there are more types of homosexuality, what is their prevalence?
First of all even between quotes you shouldn't use heal about homosexuality. Then you should first try to learn about sexuality.
what types of homosexuality are there
Homosexuality is a thing, one thing. There is now a loooooot of sexualities, you acknowlodge them or not it's up to you, but there is not such a thing as "types of homosexuality".
how about combination with heterosexuality?
Are you asking about bisexuality ?
exists some known causes for homosexuality?
Homosexuality is "accepted" as something you're born with. Further than this I don't know any research proving there is a gene or a cause for it to happen.
how about those, who claim, that were "healed from homosexuality?
I guess you should see it as someone who doesn't like some type of food, but buy forcing himself eating some he actully gets over it. This being said your sexuality is something quite stronger than your food taste, and going against it often comes with depression and other issues.
is some type of homosexuality changeable?
As I said, going against your nature isn't something you should do because it never goes well for you. It always comes with depression, etc… From your enormous lack of knowledge I guess you're straight, then imagine from now on trying to force yourself to be homosexual ? How hard do you think it would be ? Ho do you think you could deal with it ?
Homosexuality can be called a mental disorder, rules Chinese court
File image: In 2019, a Chinese artist and a gay policeman launched an unusually high-profile public protest campaign in which bright-red trucks bearing slogans denouncing homosexual "conversion therapy" were driven through several major cities
A court in China has agreed with a textbook’s description of homosexuality as a mental disorder, upholding a ruling by a lower court.
The decision of the Suqian Intermediate People’s Court in the eastern province of Jiangsu was called “random and baseless” by Ou Jiayong, also known as Xixi, who had filed the lawsuit.
In 2016, Xixi had discovered a psychology textbook that described being gay as a mental disorder during her studies at the South China Agricultural University in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, reported the South China Morning Post.
In 1990, the World Health Organisation declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder following which China followed suit and decriminalised homosexuality in 1997. Two years later, in 2001, China removed it from the official list of mental disorders.
The textbook, being used by a number of Chinese universities, is the 2013 edition of Mental Health Education for College Students published by Jinan University Press. It has listed homosexuality under “common psychosexual disorders” along with cross-dressing and fetishism.
Following this, Xixi, 24, and her friends protested against it in front of the office of the textbook’s publisher. They argue that the book is perpetuating the belief that being gay was wrong and then, in 2017, filed a case against the publisher asking it to remove the reference.
But, last year, the Suyu District People’s Court in Suqian held that opposing views of Xixi and the publisher were due to differences in opinion instead of being a factual error.
As a result, in November 2020, Xixi, who is now a social worker in Hong Kong, appealed against the ruling which has now again not gone in her favour.
Her case and subsequent appeal had generated serious support from China’s LGBT community but the court’s decision last week has left them disappointed. But she is not calling it quits and discussing with legal experts to see if there is any possibility to take the case further.
Ah Qiang, an activist for LGBT rights, stated that the textbook’s editor has used viewpoints that do not match “society’s perception of sexual minorities” in the present times.
What Psychiatrists Really Thought
It is fascinating to see what psychiatrists really think about homosexuality when they are free from intimidation, threats of violence and political pressure. What was the true majority opinion of the APA on homosexuality?
Almost simultaneously with the 1972 NIMH report, the New York County District Branch of the APA’s Homosexuality Task Force produced a second report. According to APA member Charles Socarides, M.D., the document concluded that homosexuality was a psychosexual disorder—but that it deserved civil rights anyway. 1
It is even more revealing to examine the results of polls of psychiatrists taken since 1973 regarding the issue of homosexual orientation.
The original “voting” letter distributed by the APA Homosexuality Task Force in 1973 was answered by only about one-quarter of the recipients, obviously leading to a severe “volunteer bias” which led to pro-homosexual results. It is quite certain that, if all of the APA members had returned their “ballots,” homosexuality would have remained a mental disorder in the view of the organization.
A later series of private surveys—which could be answered confidentially and without fear of retaliation—showed that two-thirds of APA member psychiatrists regarded homosexuality as abnormal despite the parent organization’s switch. 1
More specifically, in 1977, four years after the APA flip-flop, the journal Medical Aspects of Human Sexuality revealed that it had polled 2,500 psychiatrists on their view of what “current thinking on homosexuality” was, and, by a lopsided margin of 69% to 18% (nearly four to one, with 13% undecided), the respondents answered, “Homosexuality was usually a pathological adaptation as opposed to a normal variation.” 4
This is certainly a more accurate poll than the original APA letter, which was prey to all of the “volunteer bias” that self-selected populations exhibit. However, by comparison, the 1977 survey was truly random, and so its results should certainly be given more weight.
Due to the extreme political pressure exerted upon both the American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association, no extensive public discussion on the mental pathology of homosexuality has been conducted since 1977.
Scientists explore the evolution of animal homosexuality
Sphen and Magic, two male Gentoo penguins, recently made headlines when they ‘adopted’ an egg. Gentoos are closely related to Adélie penguins, the species Levick first observed in 1911. After the two penguins bonded and began creating a nest, zookeepers at the Sea Life Sydney Aquarium decided to give them an egg that had been abandoned by a pair of heterosexual penguins in the group. On October 19, 2018, Baby Sphengic was born. Credit: Imperial College London
Imperial researchers are using a new approach to understand why same-sex behaviour is so common across the animal kingdom.
In 1910, a team of scientists set off on the Terra Nova Expedition to explore Antarctica. Among them was George Murray Levick, a zoologist and photographer who would be the first researcher to study the world's largest Adélie penguin colony. He chronicled the animals' daily activities in great detail.
In his notebooks, he described their sexual behaviour, including sex between male birds. However, none of these notes would appear in Levick's published papers. Concerned by the graphic content, he only printed 100 copies of Sexual Habits of the Adélie Penguin to circulate privately. The last remaining copy was recently unearthed providing valuable insights into animal homosexuality research.
But forays into animal homosexuality research long predate Levick, with observations published as far back as the 1700s and 1800s. More than 200 years later, research has moved past some of the taboos those early researchers faced and shown that homosexuality is much more common than previously thought.
Same-sex behaviour ranging from co-parenting to sex has been observed in over 1,000 species with likely many more as researchers begin to look for the behaviour explicitly. Homosexuality is widespread, with bisexuality even more prevalent across species.
Researchers are now going beyond just observing it though, with researchers at Imperial leading the way in unravelling how, and why, homosexuality is found across nature.
Case study: gentoo penguinsSpider monkeys are New World primate species for which homosexual behaviour has not been previously reported. In 2018, the first report of sex between males was recorded. “It’s interesting because there was this kind of premise that because Old World primates are more closely related to humans, you wouldn’t really see this type of behaviour in New World primates, but there they are,” says Clive. This suggests that homosexual activity is not a recent human construct, in cultural or even in evolutionary terms, but instead occurs along many branches on the tree of life. Credit: Shane Rounce via Unsplash
Overturning Darwin's paradox
With this behaviour seen across species from birds and insects to reptiles and mammals – including humans – researchers are trying to understand why.
In the past, homosexual behaviour was often ignored because it supposedly contradicted Darwin's theory of evolution. Scientists argued homosexuality was a sort of 'Darwinian paradox' because it involved sexual behaviour that was non-reproductive. Recent evidence however suggests homosexual behaviour could play important roles in reproduction and evolution.
Among the researchers leading the way is Vincent Savolainen, Professor of Organismic Biology at Imperial. Savolainen is a world-renowned evolutionary biologist who approaches many of the same questions Darwin did, but from a contemporary perspective. Savolainen's contributions range from solving Darwin's "abominable mystery" of flowering plants to elucidating how great white sharks evolved to be super-predatory fast-swimmers.
Savolainen explains: "I tackle big evolutionary biology questions. It doesn't really matter what organism, at the end of the day it's all about how genes have evolved either to produce a species or a new behaviour."
The overarching aim of his lab can be summed up with the saying: "Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution."
Savolainen has turned this philosophy to 'Darwin's paradox'. In 2016, Savolainen started some work on animal homosexuality, beginning with a chapter on the Evolution of Homosexuality. Since then, he has assembled a collaborative team of researchers to examine the question through field work, genomic sequencing and new theoretical models.
Case study: spider monkeysIn 1896, French entomologist Henri Gadeau de Kerville published one of the first scientific illustrations of animal homosexuality. His drawing depicted two male scarab beetles copulating and was part of a wave of descriptions of same-sex behaviour in insects that set the stage for animal observations in the 1900s. Credit: Bulletin de la Société entomologique de France (1896)
On Imperial's Silwood Park campus, Savolainen's Ph.D. student Jackson Clive is spending some of his final days in the lab before he heads out for field work. It will be his second of many months-long trips to observe rhesus macaques in the wild. Female homosexuality has been well studied in Japanese macaques, but Clive's research would examine how homosexual behaviour differs in males and across environments.
These trips are intense in many ways besides the physical challenges of the bush.
Clive explains: "Behavioural studies take a long time especially for these unpredictable and infrequent behaviours, which includes almost all sexual behaviours. You have to do a lot of sitting around and watching while also being quite alert. It takes quite a lot of effort to recognize these individual primates. In one social group I have to recognize 120 males individually."
Before beginning his Ph.D. research, Clive was studying a family of mountain gorillas in East Africa. He noticed mounting between male gorillas, though that was not the main focus of his research at the time.
"It's just wherever you look. I can give you papers on beetles, spiders, flies, fish, flamingos, geese, bison, deer, gibbons, bats – loads of bats, bats get up to all sorts," he says. "The list is endless."
It's early days for the Imperial research team. Recording homosexual behaviour in the wild and collecting blood samples are the first steps for Clive the next is sequencing DNA to search for connections between the behaviour and genetic markers.
Case study: scarab beetlesThis eastern Australian bat species lives in large groups but are segregated by sex outside of breeding season. As such, many bats are likely ‘seasonally bisexual’. Males and females have been observed in sexual and affectionate same-sex behaviour. The acts are characterized by wrapping their large wings around each other, licking and grooming, and nuzzling their heads in each other’s chests. Credit: Thomas Lipke via Unsplash
What does animal homosexuality look like biologically? It's hard to say.
In 1993 there was a media frenzy over the discovery of the 'gay gene'. This idea stemmed from a study showing a correlation between genetic marker Xq28 and male homosexuality, although there were statistical uncertainties about some of the findings.
Scientists have successfully modelled other complex or polygenic traits like height. There is not a single 'tall' or 'short'. Instead, height is determined by changes across hundreds of genes in combination with environmental factors.
To understand what gives rise to complex traits and behaviours, researchers must identify where the genetic changes take place and what underlying processes are driving them. Then they can see what this should look like in the real world.The biological and hereditary factors of homosexuality are most certainly not tied to a single gene. Researchers aren't searching for one genetic marker or one cause but a combination of factors that give rise to certain behaviours under specific circumstances.PhD student Tom Versluys is studying human mate attraction. Credit: Imperial College London
To create models of homosexuality, Savolainen recruited Ewan Flintham as a Ph.D. student in evolutionary biology at Imperial. Flintham previously worked on models for speciation— the formation of new and distinct species in the course of evolution—as well as sexual behaviour in fruit flies.
He says: "We have the capacity to model complex behaviours and pull on massive amounts of data. However, creating a complex model isn't beneficial unless it is modelling a useful concept."
The bisexual advantage
There are many theories about why homosexuality is important for reproduction and evolution. Savolainen has outlined some leading models. One is the "bisexual advantage" model where animals with a more fluid sexuality are more likely to reproduce. Savolainen's lab looks at a range of sexual behaviours from strict heterosexuality to homosexuality. Bisexuality may be "an evolutionary optimum phenotype in many species, including humans," according to Savolainen's review.
Other models consider whether a gene is beneficial for a specific sex. For example, if the gene were 'feminizing' in the sense that it would lead to females having more offspring so it would be passed on in spite of being disadvantageous for a male's own reproduction, i.e. being homosexual. Meanwhile, others posit that homosexuality could also play a role in evolution through co-parenting or helping to raise relatives' offspring. These explanations are not exclusive of one another, and it is likely that a combination of factors are important for the evolution of homosexuality.
With these new models, researchers can test many theories in combination and vary the data inputs accordingly. The "golden standard" would use the original genetic and behavioural data from the macaque field work and fit them to different theories to see how each could be applied to other populations and animals.
The primates Savolainen's lab is currently studying are of course closely related to humans. Studying non-human primates is helpful because it provides clearer data and separates the behaviour from culture while at the same time offering new insights on human sexuality and evolution.
Case study: grey headed flying boxes
Ph.D. student Tom Versluys is looking directly at humans, specifically by studying mate choice in couples. His previous research examined how body-to-limb ratio makes men more attractive. In Savolainen's lab, he's taking a broader and more technical approach. He will create 3-D face models of couples to compare shape, structure, and proportions. Ultimately, the project will combine questionnaires, facial modelling and genetic sequencing to examine similarities between couples and investigate whether mate-choice decisions are being driven by considerations of biological or social compatibility.
Importantly, this will include exploration of homosexual partners in the hope of understanding different mate-choice strategies in reproductive and non-reproductive contexts. Versluys is currently recruiting heterosexual and homosexual couples among Imperial students and staff for his research. If you would like to know how similar you and your partner are (or would just like 3-D models of your faces), please get in touch with him at [email protected]
Versluys says: "Homosexuality is still something that's not always well understood among the scientific community and maybe even more poorly understood among the general population. It's currently being reframed, in our lab and elsewhere, as a normal behaviour rather than something that's abhorrent or problematic."
The hope is that as homosexuality is better understood, research will dispel people's misconceptions. However, many of the historical cultural challenges persist. And despite the acknowledgement of how widespread homosexuality is in nature, researchers have to contend with a dearth of research that should have been built up over decades.
Savolainen explains: "It's still risky and unusual research that is difficult to support through traditional funding routes. We're looking for organizations or individuals that believe in this research and are willing to take that risk."
Vincent Savolainen et al. Evolution of Homosexuality, Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science (2017). DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-16999-6_3403-1
Thomas M. M. Versluys et al. The influence of leg-to-body ratio, arm-to-body ratio and intra-limb ratio on male human attractiveness, Royal Society Open Science (2018). DOI: 10.1098/rsos.171790
Study of gay brothers may confirm X chromosome link to homosexuality
Dean Hamer finally feels vindicated. More than 20 years ago, in a study that triggered both scientific and cultural controversy, the molecular biologist offered the first direct evidence of a “gay gene,” by identifying a stretch on the X chromosome likely associated with homosexuality. But several subsequent studies called his finding into question. Now the largest independent replication effort so far, looking at 409 pairs of gay brothers, fingers the same region on the X. “When you first find something out of the entire genome, you’re always wondering if it was just by chance,” says Hamer, who asserts that new research “clarifies the matter absolutely.”
But not everyone finds the results convincing. And the kind of DNA analysis used, known as a genetic linkage study, has largely been superseded by other techniques. Due to the limitations of this approach, the new work also fails to provide what behavioral geneticists really crave: specific genes that might underlie homosexuality.
Few scientists have ventured into this line of research. When the genetics of being gay comes up at scientific meetings, “sometimes even behavioral geneticists kind of wrinkle up their noses,” says Kenneth Kendler, a psychiatric geneticist at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. That’s partially because the science itself is so complex. Studies comparing identical and fraternal twins suggest there is some heritable component to homosexuality, but no one believes that a single gene or genes can make a person gay. Any genetic predispositions probably interact with environmental factors that influence development of a sexual orientation.
Several genomic studies have suggested regions that might influence sexual orientation, but they have relied on small numbers of participants and have been challenged repeatedly. In 1993, Hamer, then at the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland, published the first of these studies, suggesting that a specific stretch of the X chromosome called Xq28 holds a gene or genes that predispose a man to being gay.
The finding made some evolutionary sense. An X-linked gene for homosexuality has long been proposed as a way to explain how the trait persists in the population even though gay men tend to have fewer offspring: The gene could increase fertility in females, who would have two “chances” to inherit it.
Many researchers were skeptical that an analysis of only 38 pairs of gay brothers was reliable, and several other groups failed to replicate the results. “In my circles, it was seen as ‘Oh, another false-positive finding,’ ” Kendler says. “Findings in this general area of human behavioral genetics were at that time really plagued by concerns about replicability.”
The paper also ignited social debate: Some speculated that a genetic test for homosexuality would lead to more discrimination, while others attacked the premise that being gay has a biological basis. “For a long while, if you Googled my name, you would find right-wing religious webpages saying that I was a liar,” says Hamer, who formally retired from NIH in 2011.
J. Michael Bailey, a psychologist at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, wanted to put questions about Xq28 to rest. “I thought that Dean did a fine but small study,” he says. “If I had to bet, I would have bet against our being able to replicate it.” In 2004, he began to recruit families with at least two gay male siblings for a genetic linkage analysis, which searches for regions of DNA consistently shared between people with a common trait.
When Bailey and his colleagues analyzed the DNA of the 409 pairs of brothers they had recruited, they were surprised to see linkages on both Xq28 and a region of chromosome 8, which Hamer had also previously suggested held genes related to sexuality.
The work, published online today in Psychological Medicine, took longer to come to light than many expected. After more than 7 years chipping away at the analysis between other projects, Bailey and psychiatrist Alan Sanders of NorthShore University HealthSystem Research Institute in Evanston, who led the investigation, began to discuss their findings at meetings. But it would be nearly 2 more years to publication, and Sanders acknowledges that at least one journal rejected the work.
In the meantime, the genetic linkage technique has largely been replaced with genome-wide association (GWA) studies. A linkage study identifies only broad regions containing dozens or even hundreds of genes, whereas GWA studies often allow the association of a specific gene with a certain trait in the population. That approach would be preferable, but a linkage study was the only way to directly replicate Hamer’s work, Sanders says.
Kendler, who is an editor at Psychological Medicine, says it was somewhat surprising to get the submission from Sanders and Bailey’s team using the older technique. “Seeing linkage studies in this world of GWAs is rare,” he says, but he maintains that the study “really moves the field along.”
Neil Risch, a geneticist at the University of California, San Francisco, disagrees. The paper does little to clear up question about Xq28, he says. Risch collaborated on a 1999 study that found no linkage at that region and says that more recent evidence casts further doubt. He also says the two linkages reported in the new work are not statistically significant.
Sanders admits that although the strongest linkage he identified on chromosome 8, using an isolated genetic marker, clears the threshold for significance, the Xq28 linkage does not. But he says both cases are bolstered by (also less-than-significant) data from neighboring markers, which appear to be shared at higher rates between pairs of brothers. “The convergence of the evidence pointed towards” Xq28 and chromosome 8, he asserts.
Bailey and Sanders may soon have more data to back their claim—or refute it. They’re now working on a GWA study, which includes genetic data from the just-published work plus DNA samples from more than 1000 additional gay men. Based on the results published today, “it looks promising for there being genes in both of these regions,” Bailey says, “but until somebody finds a gene, we don’t know.”
Family Research Council believes the context for the full expression of human sexuality is within the bonds of marriage between one man and one woman.
We believe that objective, immutable, biological sex is a more fundamental way of determining an individual&rsquos identity than subjective, changeable, psychological &ldquogender identity,&rdquo and therefore, biological sex at birth should be the only such marker used by governments at any level for any purpose.
We believe that every person, no matter who they are sexually attracted to, is created in the image and likeness of God (Gen. 1:26). Therefore, all people are equal in dignity and value and must be treated with respect.
We believe that sexual attractions or other subjective psychological feelings do not define a person. Rather, every person is defined by their immutable, in-born biological sex, which is present and identifiable in the DNA of every cell in the human body. We believe our bodies are part of God&rsquos creation. This includes our gender&mdashour maleness and femaleness. While it is certainly true that some people identify very strongly as &ldquogay,&rdquo &ldquolesbian,&rdquo &ldquobisexual,&rdquo &ldquotransgender,&rdquo or another identity and act according to this identity, this behavior does not define them, just as a so-called &ldquostraight&rdquo person is not defined by their &ldquostraightness.&rdquo Rather, the divinely intended purpose of human sexuality is inherently present in the complementarity of the male and female sex, as created by God and described in the first chapter of Genesis.
Is homophobia associated with homosexual arousal?
The authors investigated the role of homosexual arousal in exclusively heterosexual men who admitted negative affect toward homosexual individuals. Participants consisted of a group of homophobic men (n = 35) and a group of nonhomophobic men (n = 29) they were assigned to groups on the basis of their scores on the Index of Homophobia (W. W. Hudson & W. A. Ricketts, 1980). The men were exposed to sexually explicit erotic stimuli consisting of heterosexual, male homosexual, and lesbian videotapes, and changes in penile circumference were monitored. They also completed an Aggression Questionnaire (A. H. Buss & M. Perry, 1992). Both groups exhibited increases in penile circumference to the heterosexual and female homosexual videos. Only the homophobic men showed an increase in penile erection to male homosexual stimuli. The groups did not differ in aggression. Homophobia is apparently associated with homosexual arousal that the homophobic individual is either unaware of or denies.
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Men with an excess of older brothers are more likely to be gay — and a maternal immune response may explain why
The more older brothers a man has, the more likely he is to be gay. And there is now evidence that indicates this effect is caused by immunological conditions in a mother’s womb.
Those are the results of two new studies, which provide stronger evidence for a phenomenon known as the fraternal birth order effect.
“Two early lines of research on human sexual orientation focused on the sibship composition of homosexual men,” explained researcher Ray Blanchard, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Toronto.
“One line, which originated in Germany in the 1930s, indicated that homosexual men have an excess of male siblings. Another line, which originated in England in the 1950s, indicated that homosexual men have an excess of older siblings. I was dimly aware of this work but I put no stock in it, until I inadvertently replicated these findings while doing something completely unrelated.”
“A few years later, I and my then postdoc, Tony Bogaert, showed that the German and British investigators had simply been looking at different facets of the same phenomenon, namely, that homosexual men have an excess of older male siblings,” Blanchard told PsyPost.
“Older brothers increase the odds of homosexuality in later-born males. Tony Bogaert found that biological brothers increase the odds of homosexuality in later-born males, even if they were reared in different households, whereas stepbrothers or adoptive brothers have no effect on sexual orientation. Thus, the available evidence indicates that the effect is prenatal.”
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Blanchard published research in the Archives of Sexual Behavior that provides evidence that fraternal birth order is linked to men’s sexual orientation. The research used a statistical method known as a meta-analysis, allowing the researchers to examine a large amount of data recorded from previous studies.
“I recently investigated the reliability of this phenomenon — the fraternal birth order effect — in two non-overlapping meta-analyses. The first meta-analysis was carried out on 30 convenience samples from 26 studies, totalling 7,140 homosexual and 12,837 heterosexual males,” Blanchard explained to PsyPost.
“The second meta-analysis was carried out on 6 probability samples from 5 studies, totalling 2,386 homosexual and 445,301 heterosexual males. The homosexual males had proportionately more older brothers than the heterosexual controls in 35 of the 36 total samples (although the difference was not statistically significant in every individual study).”
Blanchard’s meta-analytic study prompted seven commentaries from other researchers. Northwestern University psychology professor J. Michael Bailey, for example, cautioned that publication bias could have led to Blanchard finding a positive result.
“Scientists are incentivized to produce positive (i.e., statistically significant) findings,” Bailey wrote in his commentary. “They are especially incentivized to produce positive, surprising findings. Surprising findings are those we would be prone to doubt without compelling evidence. Such findings are especially unlikely to be true, all else being equal. The fraternal birth order effect qualifies as a surprising finding.”
Blanchard responded with a commentary of his own, defending his findings, and also published an addendum to show that older sisters did not have the same effect on sexual orientation as older brothers.
Blanchard and his colleagues believe the fraternal birth order effect has a biological basis in maternal immune responses in the womb — which they call the maternal immune hypothesis (MIH).
They now have evidence that the effect is immunological in origin. A study led by Bogaert, which was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that a maternal immune response to a Y-linked protein important in male fetal brain development was linked to men’s sexual orientation.
“Tony, I, and a team of other psychologists and immunologists recently reported the first laboratory test of the MIH. We drew blood samples from 16 women with no sons, 72 mothers of heterosexual sons, 31 mothers of gay sons with no older brothers, 23 mothers of gay sons with older brothers, and an additional control group of 12 men,” Blanchard told PsyPost.
“We conducted immunoassays to measure the mothers’ antibody reactivity to two cell-surface proteins that are found only in males and are expressed in fetal brain: PCDH11Y and two isoforms of NLGN4Y. There were significant differences for both isoforms of NLGN4Y tested.”
“When the total number of pregnancies was controlled for, mothers of homosexual sons (especially those with older brothers) had significantly higher anti-NLGN4Y levels than did the control samples of women, including mothers of heterosexual sons,” Blanchard explained. “Thus, the findings for NLGN4Y were consistent with the predictions of the MIH. Of course, it is very important that this study be replicated by an independent team using a fresh sample.”
The maternal immune response is just one factor among many that influences sexual orientation. Not every man with a large number of older brothers is gay.
“This is the culmination of more than 20 years of research where we started looking at the older brother, or fraternal birth order, effect. The current study adds to the growing scientific consensus that homosexuality is not a choice, but rather an innate predisposition,” Bogaert said.
MENTAL HEALTH IN LGBT YOUTH
To organize our review, we start by briefly presenting the historical and theoretical contexts of LGBT mental health. Next, we provide an overview of the prevalence of mental health disorders among LGBT youth in comparison to the general population, and various psychosocial characteristics (i.e., structural, interpersonal, and intrapersonal) that place LGBT youth at risk for poor mental health. We then highlight studies that focus on factors that protect and foster resilience among LGBT youth.
Prior to the 1970s, the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA’s) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) listed homosexuality as a “sociopathic personality disturbance” (Am. Psychiatr. Assoc. 1952). Pioneering studies on the prevalence of same-sex sexuality (Ford & Beach 1951 Kinsey et al. 1948, 1953) and psychological comparisons between heterosexual and gay men (Hooker 1957) fostered a change in attitudes from the psychological community and motivated the APA’s removal of homosexuality as a mental disorder in 1973 (although all conditions related to same-sex attraction were not removed until 1987). Over the past 50 years, the psychological discourse regarding same-sex sexuality shifted from an understanding that homosexuality was intrinsically linked with poor mental health toward understanding the social determinants of LGBT mental health. Recent years have seen similar debates about the diagnoses related to gender identity that currently remain in the DSM (see sidebar Changes in Gender Identity Diagnoses in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders).
Minority stress theory (Meyer 1995, 2003) has provided a foundational framework for understanding sexual minority mental health disparities (Inst. Med. 2011). It posits that sexual minorities experience distinct, chronic stressors related to their stigmatized identities, including victimization, prejudice, and discrimination. These distinct experiences, in addition to everyday or universal stressors, disproportionately compromise the mental health and well-being of LGBT people. Generally, Meyer (2003) posits three stress processes from distal to proximal: (a) objective or external stressors, which include structural or institutionalized discrimination and direct interpersonal interactions of victimization or prejudice (b) one’s expectations that victimization or rejection will occur and the vigilance related to these expectations and (c) the internalization of negative social attitudes (often referred to as internalized homophobia). Extensions of this work also focus on how intrapersonal psychological processes (e.g., appraisals, coping, and emotional regulation) mediate the link between experiences of minority stress and psychopathology (see Hatzenbuehler 2009). Thus, it is important to recognize the structural circumstances within which youth are embedded and that their interpersonal experiences and intrapersonal resources should be considered as potential sources of both risk and resilience.
We illustrate multilevel ecological contexts in Figure 2 . The young person appears as the focus, situated in the center and defined by intrapersonal characteristics. This is surrounded by interpersonal contexts (which, for example, include daily interactions with family and peers) that exist within social and cultural contexts. The arrow along the bottom of the figure suggests the historically changing nature of the contexts of youth’s lives. Diagonal arrows that transverse the figure acknowledge interactions across contexts, and thus implications for promoting LGBT youth mental health at the levels of policy, community, and clinical practice, which we consider at the end of the manuscript. We use this model to organize the following review of LGBT youth mental health.
Conceptual model of contextual influences on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth mental health and associated implications for policies, programs, and practice. The arrow along the bottom of the figure indicates the historically changing nature of the contexts of youth’s lives. Diagonal arrows acknowledge interactions across contexts, thus recognizing opportunities for promoting LGBT youth mental health at policy, community, and clinical practice levels.
Prevalence of Mental Health Problems Among LGBT Youth
Adolescence is a critical period for mental health because many mental disorders show onset during and directly following this developmental period (Kessler et al. 2005, 2007). Recent US estimates of adolescent past-year mental health diagnoses indicate that 10% demonstrate a mood disorder, 25% an anxiety disorder, and 8.3% a substance use disorder (Kessler et al. 2012). Further, suicide is the third leading cause of death for youth ages 10 to 14 and the second leading cause of death for those ages 15 to 24 (CDC 2012).
The inclusion of sexual attraction, behavior, and identity measures in population-based studies (e.g., the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health and the CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System) has greatly improved knowledge of the prevalence of LGB mental health disparities and the mechanisms that contribute to these inequalities for both youth and adults there remains, however, a critical need for the development and inclusion of measures to identify transgender people, which thwarts more complete understanding of mental health among transgender youth. Such data illustrate overwhelming evidence that LGB persons are at greater risk for poor mental health across developmental stages. Studies using adult samples indicate elevated rates of depression and mood disorders (Bostwick et al. 2010, Cochran et al. 2007), anxiety disorders (Cochran et al. 2003, Gilman et al. 2001), posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) (Hatzenbuehler et al. 2009a), alcohol use and abuse (Burgard et al. 2005), and suicide ideation and attempts, as well as psychiatric comorbidity (Cochran et al. 2003, Gilman et al. 2001). Studies of adolescents trace the origins of these adult sexual orientation mental health disparities to the adolescent years: Multiple studies demonstrate that disproportionate rates of distress, symptomatology, and behaviors related to these disorders are present among LGBT youth prior to adulthood (Fish & Pasley 2015, Needham 2012, Ueno 2010).
US and international studies consistently conclude that LGBT youth report elevated rates of emotional distress, symptoms related to mood and anxiety disorders, self-harm, suicidal ideation, and suicidal behavior when compared to heterosexual youth (Eskin et al. 2005, Fergusson et al. 2005, Fleming et al. 2007, Marshal et al. 2011), and that compromised mental health is a fundamental predictor of a host of behavioral health disparities evident among LGBT youth (e.g., substance use, abuse, and dependence Marshal et al. 2008). In a recent meta-analysis, Marshal et al. (2011) reported that sexual minority youth were almost three times as likely to report suicidality these investigators also noted a statistically moderate difference in depressive symptoms compared to heterosexual youth.
Despite the breadth of literature highlighting disparities in symptoms and distress, relatively lacking are studies that explore the presence and prevalence of mental health disorders or diagnoses among LGBT youth. Using a birth cohort sample of Australian youth 14 to 21 years old, Fergusson and colleagues (1999) found that LGB youth were more likely to report suicidal thoughts or attempts, and experienced more major depression, generalized anxiety disorders, substance abuse/dependence, and comorbid diagnoses, compared to heterosexual youth. Results from a more recent US study that interviewed a community sample of LGBT youth ages 16 to 20 indicated that nearly one-third of participants met the diagnostic criteria for a mental disorder and/or reported a suicide attempt in their lifetime (Mustanski et al. 2010). When comparing these findings to mental health diagnosis rates in the general population, the difference is stark: Almost 18% of lesbian and gay youth participants met the criteria for major depression and 11.3% for PTSD in the previous 12 months, and 31% of the LGBT sample reported suicidal behavior at some point in their life. National rates for these diagnoses and behaviors among youth are 8.2%, 3.9%, and 4.1%, respectively (Kessler et al. 2012, Nock et al. 2013).
Studies also show differences among LGB youth. For example, studies on LGB youth suicide have found stronger associations between sexual orientation and suicide attempts for sexual minority males comparative to sexual minority females (Fergusson et al. 2005, Garofalo et al. 1999), including a meta-analysis using youth and adult samples (King et al. 2008). Conversely, lesbian and bisexual female youth are more likely to exhibit substance use problems when compared to heterosexual females (Needham 2012, Ziyadeh et al. 2007) and sexual minority males (Marshal et al. 2008) however, some reports on longitudinal trends indicate that these differences in disparities diminish over time because sexual minority males tch up” and exhibit faster accelerations of substance use in the transition to early adulthood (Hatzenbuehler et al. 2008a).
Although not explicitly tested in all studies, results often indicate that bisexual youth (or those attracted to both men and women) are at greater risk for poor mental health when compared to heterosexual and solely same-sex-attracted counterparts (Marshal et al. 2011, Saewyc et al. 2008, Talley et al. 2014). In their meta-analysis, Marshal and colleagues (2011) found that bisexual youth reported more suicidality than lesbian and gay youth. Preliminary research also suggests that youth questioning their sexuality report greater levels of depression than those reporting other sexual identities (heterosexual as well as LGB Birkett et al. 2009) and show worse psychological adjustment in response to bullying and victimization than heterosexual or LGB-identified students (Poteat et al. 2009).
Relatively lacking is research that explicitly tests racial/ethnic differences in LGBT youth mental health. As with general population studies, researchers have observed mental health disparities across sexual orientation within specific racial/ethnic groups (e.g., Borowsky et al. 2001). Consolacion and colleagues (2004) found that among African American youth, those who were same-sex attracted had higher rates of suicidal thoughts and depressive symptoms and lower levels of self-esteem than their African American heterosexual peers, and Latino same-sex-attracted youth were more likely to report depressive symptoms than Latino heterosexual youth.
Even fewer are studies that simultaneously assess the interaction between sexual orientation and racial/ethnic identities (Inst. Med. 2011), especially among youth. One study assessed differences between white and Latino LGBQ youth (Ryan et al. 2009) and found that Latino males reported more depression and suicidal ideation compared to white males, whereas rates were higher for white females compared to Latinas. Although not always in relation to mental health outcomes, researchers discuss the possibility of cumulative risk as the result of managing multiple marginalized identities (Dz et al. 2006, Meyer et al. 2008). However, some empirical evidence suggests the contrary: that black sexual minority male youth report better psychological health (fewer major depressive episodes and less suicidal ideation and alcohol abuse or dependence) than their white sexual minority male counterparts (Burns et al. 2015). Still other studies find no racial/ethnic differences in the prevalence of mental health disorders and symptoms within sexual minority samples (Kertzner et al. 2009, Mustanski et al. 2010).
In summary, clear and consistent evidence indicates that global mental health problems are elevated among LGB youth, and similar results are found for the smaller number of studies that use diagnostic criteria to measure mental health. Among sexual minorities, there are preliminary but consistent indications that bisexual youth are among those at higher risk for mental health problems. The general dearth of empirical research on gender and racial/ethnic differences in mental health status among LGBT youth, as well as contradictory findings, indicates the need for more research. Specific research questions and hypotheses aimed at understanding the intersection of multiple (minority) identities are necessary to better understand diversity in the lived experiences of LGBT youth and their potentials for risk and resilience in regard to mental health and well-being (Russell 2003, Saewyc 2011).
Two approaches are often used to frame and explore mechanisms that exacerbate risk for LGBT youth (Russell 2005, Saewyc 2011). First is to examine the greater likelihood of previously identified universal risk factors (those that are risk factors for all youth), such as family conflict or child maltreatment LGBT youth score higher on many of the critical universal risk factors for compromised mental health, such as conflict with parents and substance use and abuse (Russell 2003). The second approach explores LGBT-specific factors such as stigma and discrimination and how these compound everyday stressors to exacerbate poor outcomes. Here we focus on the latter and discuss prominent risk factors identified in the field—the absence of institutionalized protections, biased-based bullying, and family rejection𠅊s well as emerging research on intrapersonal characteristics associated with mental health vulnerability.
At the social/cultural level, the lack of support in the fabric of the many institutions that guide the lives of LGBT youth (e.g., their schools, families, faith communities) limits their rights and protections and leaves them more vulnerable to experiences that may compromise their mental health. To date, only 19 states and the District of Columbia have fully enumerated antibullying laws that include specific protections for sexual and gender minorities (GLSEN 2015), despite the profound effects that these laws have on the experiences of youth in schools (e.g., Hatzenbuehler et al. 2014). LGBT youth in schools with enumerated nondiscrimination or antibullying policies (those that explicitly include actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity or expression) report fewer experiences of victimizations and harassment than those who attend schools without these protections (Kosciw et al. 2014). As a result, lesbian and gay youth living in counties with fewer sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI)-specific antibullying policies are twice as likely to report past-year suicide attempts than youth living in areas where these policies were more commonplace (Hatzenbuehler & Keyes 2013).
Along with school environments, it is also important to consider youths’ community context. LGBT youth who live in neighborhoods with a higher concentration of LGBT-motivated assault hate crimes also report greater likelihood of suicidal ideation and attempts than those living in neighborhoods that report a low concentration of these offenses (Duncan & Hatzenbuehler 2014). Further, studies show that youth who live in communities that are generally supportive of LGBT rights [i.e., those with more protections for same-sex couples, greater number of registered Democrats, presence of gay-straight alliances (GSAs) in schools, and SOGI-specific nondiscrimination and antibullying policies] are less likely to attempt suicide even after controlling for other risk indicators, such as a history of physical abuse, depressive symptomatology, drinking behaviors, and peer victimization (Hatzenbuehler 2011). Such findings demonstrate that pervasive LGBT discrimination at the broader social/cultural level and the lack of institutionalized support have direct implications for the mental health and well-being of sexual minority youth.
At the interpersonal level, an area that has garnered new attention is the distinct negative effect of biased-based victimization compared to general harassment (Poteat & Russell 2013). Researchers have demonstrated that biased-based bullying (i.e., bullying or victimization due to one’s perceived or actual identities including, but not limited to, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, and disability status) amplifies the effects of victimization on negative outcomes. When compared to non-biased-based victimization, youth who experience LGB-based victimization report higher levels of depression, suicidal ideation, suicide attempts, substance use, and truancy (Poteat et al. 2011, Russell et al. 2012a), regardless of whether these experiences are in person or via the Internet (Sinclair et al. 2012). Retrospective reports of biased-based victimization are also related to psychological distress and overall well-being in young adulthood, suggesting that these experiences in school carry forward to later developmental stages (Toomey et al. 2011). Importantly, although rates of bullying decrease over the course of the adolescent years, this trend is less pronounced for gay and bisexual compared to heterosexual males, leaving these youth vulnerable to these experiences for longer periods of time (Robinson et al. 2013). Further, these vulnerabilities to SOGI-biased-based bullying are not unique to LGBT youth: Studies also indicate that heterosexual youth report poor mental and behavioral health as the result of homophobic victimization (Poteat et al. 2011, Robinson & Espelage 2012). Thus, strategies to reduce discriminatory bullying will improve well-being for all youth, but especially those with marginalized identities.
Positive parental and familial relationships are crucial for youth well-being (Steinberg & Duncan 2002), but many LGBT youth fear coming out to parents (Potoczniak et al. 2009, Savin-Williams & Ream 2003) and may experience rejection from parents because of these identities (D𠆚ugelli et al. 1998, Ryan et al. 2009). This propensity for rejection is evidenced in the disproportionate rates of LGBT homeless youth in comparison to the general population (an estimated 40% of youth served by drop-in centers, street outreach programs, and housing programs identify as LGBT Durso & Gates 2012). Although not all youth experience family repudiation, those who do are at greater risk for depressive symptoms, anxiety, and suicide attempts (D𠆚ugelli 2002, Rosario et al. 2009). Further, those who fear rejection from family and friends also report higher levels of depression and anxiety (D𠆚ugelli 2002). In an early study of family disclosure, D𠆚ugelli and colleagues (1998) found that compared to those who had not disclosed, youth who had told family members about their LGB identity often reported more verbal and physical harassment from family members and experiences of suicidal thoughts and behavior. More recently, Ryan and colleagues (2009) found that compared to those reporting low levels of family rejection, individuals who experienced high levels of rejection were dramatically more likely to report suicidal ideation, to attempt suicide, and to score in the clinical range for depression.
Finally, some youth may have fewer intrapersonal skills and resources to cope with minority stress experiences or may develop maladaptive coping strategies as a result of stress related to experiences of discrimination and prejudice (Hatzenbuehler 2009, Meyer 2003). Hatzenbuehler and colleagues (2008b) found that same-sex-attracted adolescents were more likely to ruminate and demonstrated poorer emotional awareness compared to heterosexual peers this lack of emotion regulation was associated with later symptoms of depression and anxiety. Similarly, LGB youth were more likely to experience rumination and suppress emotional responses on days that they experienced minority stressors such as discrimination or prejudice, and these maladaptive coping behaviors, including rumination, were related to greater levels of psychological distress (Hatzenbuehler et al. 2008b).
A solid body of research has identified LGBT youth mental health risk factors at both the structural or societal levels as well as in interpersonal interactions with family and peers when they are characterized by minority stress. Less attention has focused on intrapersonal characteristics of LGB youth that may be accentuated by minority stress, but several new studies show promising results for identifying vulnerability as well as strategies for clinical practice.
Despite adversity, most LGBT youth develop into healthy and productive adults (Russell & Joyner 2001, Saewyc 2011), yet research has focused predominantly on risk compared to protective factors or resilience (Russell 2005). Here we discuss contextual factors that affirm LGBT youths’ identities, including school policies and programs, family acceptance, dating, and the ability to come out and be out.
Studies clearly demonstrate the benefit of affirming and protective school environments for LGBT youth mental health. Youth living in states with enumerated antibullying laws that include sexual orientation and gender identity report less homophobic victimization and harassment than do students who attend schools in states without these protections (Kosciw et al. 2014). Further, mounting evidence documents the supportive role of GSAs in schools (Poteat et al. 2012, Toomey et al. 2011). GSAs are school-based, student-led clubs open to all youth who support LGBT students GSAs aim to reduce prejudice and harassment within the school environment (Goodenow et al. 2006). LGBT students in schools with GSAs and SOGI resources often report feeling safer and are less likely to report depressive symptom, substance use, and suicidal thoughts and behaviors in comparison with students in schools lacking such resources (Goodenow et al. 2006, Hatzenbuehler et al. 2014, Poteat et al. 2012). The benefits of these programs are also seen at later developmental stages: Toomey and colleagues (2011) found that youth who attended schools with GSAs, participated in a GSA, and perceived that their GSA encouraged safety also reported better psychological health during young adulthood. Further, these experiences with GSAs diminished some of the negative effects of LGBT victimization on young adult well-being.
Along with studies that highlight the benefits of enumerative policies and GSAs, research also demonstrates that LGBT-focused policy and inclusive curriculums are associated with better psychological adjustment for LGBT students (Black et al. 2012). LGBT-inclusive curriculums introduce specific historical events, persons, and information about the LGBT community into student learning (Snapp et al. 2015a,b) and have been shown to improve students’ sense of safety (Toomey et al. 2012) and feelings of acceptance (GLSEN 2011) and to reduce victimization in schools (Kosciw et al. 2012). Further, LGBT-specific training for teachers, staff, and administrators fosters understanding and empathy for LGBT students and is associated with more frequent adult intervention in biased-based bullying (Greytak et al. 2013, Greytak & Kosciw 2014). Beyond formal school curriculum and clubs, recent studies document the ways that such school strategies influence interpersonal relationships within schools through supportive peers and friends. For example, Poteat (2015) found that youth who engage in more LGBT-based discussions with peers and who have LGBT friends are more likely to participate in LGBT-affirming behavior and intervene when hearing homophobic remarks (see also Kosciw et al. 2012).
At the interpersonal level, studies of LGBT youth have consistently shown that parental and peer support are related to positive mental health, self-acceptance, and well-being (Sheets & Mohr 2009, Shilo & Savaya 2011). D𠆚ugelli (2003) found that LGB youth who retained friends after disclosing their sexual identity had higher levels of self-esteem, lower levels of depressive symptomatology, and fewer suicidal thoughts than those who had lost friends as a result of coming out. Similarly, LGB youth who reported having sexual minority friends experienced less depression over time, and the presence of LGB friends attenuated the effects of victimization (Ueno 2005). Noteworthy is support specifically related to and affirming one’s sexual orientation and gender identity, which appears to be especially beneficial for youth (compared to general support Doty et al. 2010, Ryan et al. 2010). Snapp and colleagues (2015c) found that sexuality-related social support from parents, friends, and community during adolescence each uniquely contributed to positive well-being in young adulthood, with parental support providing the most benefit. Unfortunately, many LGBT youth report lower levels of sexuality-specific support in comparison to other forms of support, especially from parents (Doty et al. 2010), and transgender youth report lower social support from parents than their sexual minority counterparts (Ryan et al. 2010). Studies that explicitly explore the benefits of LGB-specific support show that sexuality-specific support buffers the negative effects of minority stressors (Doty et al. 2010, Rosario et al. 2009). For example, Ryan et al. (2010) found that parents’ support of sexual orientation and gender expression was related to higher levels self-esteem, less depression, and fewer reports of suicidal ideation or suicide attempts.
Romantic relationships are understood as normative and important developmental experiences for adolescents (Collins et al. 2009), but LGBT youth may experience a number of social barriers related to dating same-sex partners that may have implications for their development during adolescence and at later stages of the life course (Frost 2011, Mustanski et al. 2014, Russell et al. 2012b). These barriers include potentially limited access to romantic partners, minority stressors specific to pursuing relationships with same-sex partners, and the restriction of same-sex romantic behavior in educational settings. These obstacles, in turn, can steer youth to other social settings, such as bars and clubs, that may increase risk for poor health and health behavior (Mustanski et al. 2014). LGB youth report more fear and less agency in finding suitable romantic partners and dating in general (Diamond & Lucas 2004). Yet findings demonstrate that dating same-sex partners is related to improved mental health and lower substance use behavior for LGB youth (Russell & Consolacion 2003, Russell et al. 2002). Results from a three-year longitudinal study showed that in comparison to LGB youth who dated other-sex partners, those who dated same-sex partners experienced an increase in self-esteem and a decrease in internalized homophobia for men and women, respectively (Bauermeister et al. 2010). In a more recent study, Baams and colleagues (2014) found that the presence of a romantic partner buffered the effects of minority stress on the psychological well-being of same-sex-attracted youth.
Finally, coming out as LGBT involves dynamic interplay between intrapersonal development and interpersonal interaction and disclosure. Research consistently shows that coming out puts youth at greater risk for verbal and physical harassment (D𠆚ugelli et al. 2002, Kosciw et al. 2014) and the loss of close friends (D𠆚ugelli 2003, Diamond & Lucas 2004) however, studies of adults who disclose their sexual identities to others show positive psychosocial adjustment (Luhtanen 2002, Morris et al. 2001) and greater social support from family members (D𠆚ugelli 2002). In a recent study, Russell et al. (2014) found that despite higher risk for LGBT-based school victimization, those who were out during high school reported lower levels of depression and greater overall well-being in young adulthood (the results did not differ based on gender or ethnicity). Further, those who reported greater concealment of their LGBT identity were still susceptible to victimization but did not show the same benefits in psychosocial adjustment. Such findings demonstrate the positive benefits of coming out in high school despite the risks associated with discriminatory victimization (see sidebar Supporting Youth Through Coming Out).
In summary, there is clear evidence for compromised mental health for LGBT youth, and research in the past decade has identified both risk and protective factors at multiple levels of influence. Important gaps remain, for example, in studies that identify intrapersonal strengths or coping strategies that may enable some LGBT youth to overcome minority stress. Yet this body of research has begun to provide guidance for action at multiple contextual levels.