Born Gay?
Pros and Cons
Video exploring critical thinking and how it leads to great citizen involvement
Last updated on: 8/10/2010 7:52:34 AM PST

Is Sexual Orientation Determined at Birth?


General Reference (not clearly pro or con)

The American Psychiatric Association, a nonprofit medical organization, wrote the following information in a May 2002 article titled "Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Fact Sheet," published on its website Psych.org:
"No one knows what causes heterosexuality, homosexuality or bisexuality. Homosexuality was once thought to be the result of troubled family dynamics or faulty psychological development. Those assumptions are now understood to have been based on misinformation and prejudice. Currently there is a renewed interest in searching for biological etiologies for homosexuality. However, to date there are no replicated scientific studies supporting any specific biological etiology for homosexuality. Similarly, no specific psychosocial or family dynamic cause for homosexuality has been identified, including histories of childhood sexual abuse. Sexual abuse does not appear to be more prevalent in children who grow up to identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual, than in children who identify as heterosexual."

May 2002 - American Psychiatric Association 

The American Psychological Association, considered to be the largest association of psychologists worldwide, wrote the following information on its website APA.org (accessed Jan. 30, 2009):
"There are numerous theories about the origins of a person's sexual orientation; most scientists today agree that sexual orientation is most likely the result of a complex interaction of environmental, cognitive and biological factors. In most people, sexual orientation is shaped at an early age. There is also considerable recent evidence to suggest that biology, including genetic or inborn hormonal factors, play a significant role in a person's sexuality. In summary, it is important to recognize that there are probably many reasons for a person's sexual orientation and the reasons may be different for different people."

Jan. 30, 2009 - American Psychological Association 

Gene E. Robinson, PhD, Director of the Neuroscience Program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, wrote the following statement in The New York Times op-ed article titled "The Behavior of Genes," published on Dec. 13, 2004:
"[A]s much as people like to divide themselves into nature or nurture camps, what genes actually do in the brain reflects the interaction between hereditary and environmental information."

Dec. 13, 2004 - Gene E. Robinson, PhD 

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons), via Dallin H. Oaks, an LDS spokesman and an Elder Member of the Twelve Apostles of the Church, made the following statement in an interview with the Church's Public Affairs staff, available at newsroom.lds.org (accessed Aug. 9, 2010):

"Dallin Oaks: ...[W]e do not accept the fact that conditions that prevent people from attaining their eternal destiny were born into them without any ability to control. That is contrary to the Plan of Salvation, and it is contrary to the justice and mercy of God. It’s contrary to the whole teaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which expresses the truth that by or through the power and mercy of Jesus Christ we will have the strength to do all things. That includes resisting temptation. That includes dealing with things that we’re born with, including disfigurements, or mental or physical incapacities. None of these stand in the way of our attaining our eternal destiny. The same may be said of a susceptibility or inclination to one behavior or another which if yielded to would prevent us from achieving our eternal destiny.

Public Affairs: You’re saying the Church doesn’t necessarily have a position on ‘nurture or nature’

Dallin Oaks: That’s where our doctrine comes into play. The Church does not have a position on the causes of any of these susceptibilities or inclinations, including those related to same-gender attraction. Those are scientific questions - whether nature or nurture - those are things the Church doesn’t have a position on. "

[Editor's Note: Bruce C. Hafen, Member of the LDS' First Quorum of the Seventy, also made a Not Clearly Pro or Con statement regarding the Mormon perspective on whether sexual orientation is determined at birth. These views were expressed in a Sep. 19, 2009 article titled "Elder Bruce C. Hafen Speaks on Same-Sex Attraction," also available on the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints website:

"Consider... misconceptions the activists seek to establish as facts in the minds of policymakers and the public... First is the misconception that same-gender attraction is an inborn and unalterable orientation. This untrue assumption tries to persuade you to label yourselves and build your entire identity around a fixed sexual orientation or condition... So much individual variation exists with so many possible explanations that there is simply no scientific consensus about what causes homosexual tendencies."]


Aug. 9, 2010 - Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) 

Is Sexual Orientation Determined at Birth?

PRO (yes) CON (no)
Human Rights Campaign, a nonprofit civil rights organization, wrote the following information in a Nov. 2003 article "Guide to Coming Out," published on their website HRC.org:
"Did you choose your sex when you were born? Sexuality and gender identity are not choices any more than being left-handed or having brown eyes or being heterosexual are choices. They are a part of who you are. The choice is in deciding how to live your life."

Nov. 2003 - Human Rights Campaign 

Frederick L. Whitam, PhD, Professor in the Department of Sociology at Arizona State University, said the following during an interview with John Matthews, published in the fall 1994 issue of ASU Research Magazine:
"During the past 30 years, a strong body of evidence has emerged to suggest that sexual orientation is biological. During this same time period, not a single bit of scientific evidence suggests that sexual orientation is learned has appeared."

Fall 1994 - Frederick L. Whitam, PhD 

Simon LeVay, PhD, neurologist and Co-Founder of the Institute of Gay and Lesbian Education, wrote the following on his website SimonLevay.com (accessed Feb. 2006):
"Although quite a few of the findings [on studies regarding the basis of sexual orientation] are inconsistent between studies or await independent replication, my general conclusion is that biological processes, especially the prenatal, hormonally-controlled sexual differentiation of the brain, are likely to influence a person's ultimate sexual orientation."

Feb. 2006 - Simon LeVay, PhD 

The Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance, a nonprofit religious organization, wrote the following statement on its website ReligiousTolerance.org (accessed July 28, 2006):
"We recommend following the lead of most physical and mental health professionals, and consider homosexual orientation to be normal, natural, unchosen and fixed."

July 28, 2006 - Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance 

Alfred Kinsey, PhD, Founder of the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction, wrote the following in his book, Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, published in 1948:
"It must be shown that the fluctuations in preferences for female or male partners are related to fluctuations in the hormones, the genes, or the other biologic factors which are assumed to be operating.  It must be shown that there is a definite correlation between the degree in which the biologic factor operates, and the degree of the heterosexual-homosexual balance in the history of each individual."

1948 - Alfred Kinsey, PhD 

Harold M. Schulweis, ThD, Rabbi of Valley Beth Shalom Temple, wrote the following information on his Temple's website VBS.org in Mar. 2004:
"Scholars agree that the authors of the Bible and Talmud took their position on the issue of homosexuality on the assumption that homosexual behavior was an act of freedom of choice, that the homosexual acted either to defy God, or to oppose the law, or as a holy prostitute using his or her body, to serve a pagan cult. The assumption of the ancients about the motivation of the homosexual was based on factual error... we are dealing with mounting evidence that there are genetic factors which play a large role, perhaps a determining role, in this behavior."

Mar. 2004 - Harold M. Schulweis, ThD 

Magnus Hirschfeld, MD, 19th century physician and Founder of the Institute for Sexual Sciences, wrote the following information in his book Sappho and Socrates, published in 1896:
"In the embryonic state, people are bisexual, but in the course of their natural development, most lose their desire for members of the same sex. These people are the heterosexuals, who love members of the opposite sex. Another category consists of those individuals whose sexual organs develop normally but in whom the desire for same-sex individuals in the feeling center fails to recede. The results are men who love men and women who love women."

1896 - Magnus Hirschfeld, MD 

Kenneth S. Kendler, MD, Director of the Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics, wrote the following information in his article "Sexual Orientation in a US National Sample of Twin and Nontwin Sibling Pairs," published in the Nov. 2000 issue of The American Journal of Psychiatry:
"In accord with findings from prior twin studies, resemblance for sexual orientation was greater in monozygotic twins than in dizygotic twins or nontwin sibling pairs. These results suggest that genetic factors may provide an important influence on sexual orientation."

Nov. 2000 - Kenneth S. Kendler, MD 

Richard Pillard, MD, Professor of Psychiatry at the Boston University School of Medicine, wrote the following information in his article "The Genetic Theory of Sexual Orientation," published in the Winter 1997 issue of Harvard Gay and Lesbian Review:
 "A problem for those of us who favor a genetic basis for sexual orientation is why, from an evolutionary point of view, gay attractions should exist at all. My suggestion is that both orientations [heterosexual and homosexual] are genetically programmed, that both appeared during the evolutionary history of our species and therefore may exist at least in rudimentary form in our close primate relatives...

Behavior genetics applied to sexual orientation encounters a variety of criticisms. In this debate, I feel like a detective who's presenting his case to the district attorney. I have scraps and clues, hypothesis and sometimes hang together but that also have gaps. But the DA must be a skeptic. He has to put my case before a jury whom he must convince beyond a reasonable doubt. The standard of proof rises as the investigation proceeds. The most I can say is that no one has yet put forward evidence that is devastating to my case."

Winter 1997 - Richard Pillard, MD 

Tom Moon, MFT, psychotherapist, wrote the following information in an Aug. 10, 2006 article titled "Is It Learned or Biological?" published by San Francisco Bay Times:
"As with left-handedness, the sexual orientation of adopted children bears no relationship to that of adopted parents, clearly pointing to its biological origins. The twin studies show that twins share the trait of homosexuality more frequently than they do left-handedness, suggesting that genetics plays an even greater role in sexual orientation than in handedness."

Aug. 10, 2006 - Tom Moon, MFT  

Dennis Conkin, retired journalist of Bay Area Reporter, emailed the following statement to ProCon.org on June 26, 2006:
"I think we're born gay."

June 26, 2006 - Dennis Conkin 

Anthony Bogaert, PhD, Associate Professor at Brock University, wrote the following information in a May 17, 2006 article titled "Biological Versus Nonbiological Older Brothers and Men’s Sexual Orientation," published by PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America):
"I demonstrate that the number of biological older brothers, including those not reared with the participant (but not the number of nonbiological older brothers), increases the probability of homosexuality in men. These results provide evidence that a prenatal mechanism(s), and not social and/or rearing factors, affects men's sexual orientation development."

May 17, 2006 - Anthony Bogaert, PhD 

Kenneth M. Cohen, PhD, Lecturer in Human Development at Cornell University, wrote the following information in his book Archives of Sexual Behavior, published in 2002:
"Recent scans of the human genome reveal that some gay males share a genetic marker for homosexuality on the X chromosome. One avenue through which genes regulate homoeroticism is by instructing the brain to develop in a sex-atypical manner."

2002 - Kenneth M. Cohen, PhD 

Vernon L. Quinsey, PhD, Professor of Psychology, Biology, and Psychiatry and Head of the Department of Psychology at Queen's University, wrote the following statements in the article titled "Etiology of Anomalous Sexual Preference in Men," published in the June 2003 issue of Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences:
"The determinants of sexual interest, in the sense of preferences for the same or opposite sex... appear to be caused by the neural organizational effects of the intrauterine hormonal events."

June 2003 - Vernon L. Quinsey, PhD 

Qazi Rahman, PhD, lecturer in psychobiology at the University of East London, was quoted as having said the following during a Mar. 25, 2003 interview with Irish Examiner:
"Because we know that performance on these cognitive tests depends on the integrity of specific brain regions, the differences implicate robust differences between the brains of homosexual and heterosexual men and women and suggest that hormonal factors early in development (probably during the 1st trimester of pregnancy) produce these differences."

Mar. 25, 2003 - Qazi Rahman, PhD 

James T. Martin, MS, PhD, Professor of Physiology in the College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific at Western University of Health Sciences, wrote the following statements in his article "Anthropometric Analysis of Homosexuals and Heterosexuals: Implications for Early Hormone Exposure," published in Jan. 2004 by Hormones and Behavior:
"Male homosexuals have had less steroid exposure during [fetal] development than male heterosexuals and... female homosexuals have had greater steroid exposure during development than their heterosexual counterparts."

Jan. 2004 - James T. Martin, MS, PhD 

Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, 19th century lawyer and gay advocate, wrote the following information in his book Inclusa, published in 1864:
"Urnings [male homosexuals] result from a crossing of the male and female generative principles during the first crucial stages of fetal development. Thus Urnings are essentially 'male' in body, 'female' in desire."

1864 - Karl Heinrich Ulrichs 

Edward O. Wilson, PhD, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Biology at Harvard University, wrote the following information in his book On Human Nature, published in 1978:
"Homosexuality is normal in a biological sense, that it is a distinctive beneficial behavior that evolved as an important element in human social organization. Homosexuals may be the genetic carriers of some of mankind's rare altruistic impulses."

1978 - Edward O. Wilson, PhD 

Erik Holland, author of The Nature of Homosexuality, wrote the following opinion in a Feb. 28, 2005 email to ProCon.org, clarifying a change in his position on the etiology of homosexuality:
 "'...homosexuality is partly innate and partly socially acquired, i.e., various social circumstances make people predisposed toward homosexuality. [2004]'

The passage above describes my attitude before I started working on the book... I ended up reevaluating my stance on homosexuality after some enquiry. My new stance is what you will find summarized on the back cover of my book, i.e., homosexuals are born that way."

Feb. 28, 2005 - Erik Holland 

Citizens for Community Values, a non-governmental organization, wrote the following opinion in "The Homosexual Issue: Where Do We Stand - and Why?," published on its website CCV.org (accessed Feb. 27, 2008):
"It should be noted here also that homosexuality is not genetic. This false claim has been repeated so often and so loudly that a disturbing majority of the public has accepted it as truth. Absolutely no research supports this claim. To the contrary, thousands of people have overcome this desire, have withdrawn from homosexual behavior and have gone on to enjoy fulfilling heterosexual relationships."

Feb. 27, 2008 - Citizens for Community Values 

Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays & Gays (PFOX), an educational nonprofit organization, wrote the following on its website PFOX.org, in the section titled "About Us: Who Are Ex-gays?" (accessed Feb. 27, 2008):
"No one is born gay. All scientific studies including those by gay scientists, have not found any gay gene or gay brain center. There is no medical test for a gay gene. There is no scientific or DNA test for sexual orientation. Ex-gays are living proof that homosexual orientation is not fixed permanently."

Feb. 27, 2008 - Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays & Gays (PFOX) 

The National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), wrote the following statements on its website NARTH.com (accessed Sep. 2004):
"NARTH agrees with the American Psychological Association that 'biological, psychological and social factors' shape sexual identity at an early age for most people.

But the difference is one of emphasis. We place more emphasis on the psychological (family, peer and social) influences, while the American Psychological Association emphasizes biological influences--and has shown no interest in (indeed, a hostility toward) investigating those same psychological and social influences.

There is no such thing as a 'gay gene' and there is no evidence to support the idea that homosexuality is genetic or unchangeable.

Numerous examples exist of people who have successfully modified their sexual behavior, identity, and arousal or fantasies."

Sep. 2004 - National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) 

A. Dean Byrd, PhD, Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of Utah School of Medicine, wrote the following statement in his May 27, 2001 article titled "The Innate-Immutable Argument Finds No Basis in Science," available on the The National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) website Narth.com:
"There is no support in the scientific research for the conclusion that homosexuality is biologically determined."

May 27, 2001 - A. Dean Byrd, PhD 

Timothy J. Dailey, PhD, Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Marriage and Family Studies of the Family Research Council, was quoted as having said the following in a June 26, 2006 article titled "Prenatal Effect Hinted for Some Gay Men," published by the AP Science Writer:
"We [Family Research Council] don't believe that there's any biological basis for homosexuality. We feel the causes are complex but are deeply rooted in early childhood development. If it is indeed genetically based it is difficult to see how it could have survived in the gene pool over a period of time."

June 26, 2006 - Timothy J. Dailey, PhD 

Peter Sprigg, MDiv, Vice President for Policy at the Family Research Council, wrote the following statements in his book Outrage: How Gay Activists and Liberal Judges Are Trashing Democracy to Redefine Marriage, published in 2004:
"I must be quite blunt here. The notion that people are 'born gay' is nothing less than The Big Lie of the entire homosexual movement. Science has not proven that there is a 'gay gene' or that people are 'born gay.'"

2004 - Peter Sprigg, MDiv 

John R. Diggs, Jr., MD, practicing internist at Wing Medical Center wrote the following statement in his article "The Health Risks of Gay Sex," published online in 2002 by the Corporate Resource Council:
"Research designed to prove that gays and lesbians are 'born that way' has come up empty--there is no scientific evidence that being gay or lesbian is genetically determined."

2002 - John R. Diggs, Jr., MD 

Richard P. Fitzgibbons, MD, Director of Comprehensive Counseling Services at a private psychiatric practice, wrote the following in a 1997 letter to The Washington Times:
"There is substantial evidence based on years of clinical experience that homosexuality is a developmental disorder."

1997 -  

Richard C. Friedman, MD, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry in the Weill Medical College at Cornell University, wrote the following statement in his book Sexual Orientation and Pschoanalysis, published in 2002:
"At clinical conferences one often hears discussants commenting that 'homosexuality is genetic' and, therefore, that homosexual orientation is fixed and unmodifiable. Neither assertion is true.  These ideas were sometimes put forth in the 1980s in a debate that has long since ended...

Homosexual orientation results from interaction of many factors, including genetic influences in varying degrees across individuals... The assertion that homosexuality is genetic is so reductionistic that it must be dismissed out of hand as a general principle of psychology. "


Sexual orientation of any type - homosexual, heterosexual, bisexual - is best conceptualized as part of the psychology of men or the psychology of women... "

2002 - Richard C. Friedman, MD 

Stony Olsen, JD, Research Assistant at the University of Utah School of Medicine, wrote the following information in his article titled "Homosexuality: Innate and Immutable?," published in the Spring 2002 issue of Regent University Law Review:
"Although the popular perception of homosexuality has been that, at least in men, homosexuality is caused by biological factors, the most current and best scientific evidence appears to show that at most homosexuality is only influenced by biology in a predisposing way. The research efforts which have attempted to determine a biological cause for homosexual attraction have failed."

2002 - Stony Olsen, JD 

Sandor Rado, MD, psychiatrist and former Director of Columbia University's Psychoanalytic Clinic for Training and Research, wrote the following information in the Oct. 1940 article "A Critical Examination of the Concept of Bisexuality," published by Psychosomatic Medicine:
"The chief causal factor [of homosexuality] is the affect of anxiety, which inhibits standard stimulation and compels the 'ego action system in the individual' to bring forth an altered scheme of stimulation as a 'reparative adjustment'. Both the inhibitory and the reparative processes begin far back in early childhood, leading up to the picture which we encounter in the adult."

Oct. 1940 - Sandor Rado, MD 

The Traditional Values Coalition, a religious lobbying organization, wrote the following information in its article "Born Gay," published on its website TraditionalValues.org (accessed Apr. 29, 2010):
"[T]he most credible research to date on homosexuality - and research conducted years ago - demonstrate that no one is 'born gay.' The homosexual is suffering from a developmental problem, which frequently starts out in childhood as gender confusion, family dysfunction, or molestation... There is hope for homosexuals through developing a relationship with Jesus Christ, through both religious and secular counseling programs, and through support groups that provide accountability for those struggling with same-sex attractions and self-destructive behaviors."

Apr. 29, 2010 - Traditional Values Coalition (TVC) 

Irving Bieber, MD, medical psychoanalyst and former faculty of New York Medical College, wrote the following information in his book Homosexuality: A Psychoanalytic Study, published in 1962:
"The capacity to adapt homosexually is, in a sense, a tribute to man's biosocial resources in the face of thwarted heterosexual goal­ achievement. Sexual gratification is not renounced; instead, fears and inhibitions associated with heterosexuality are circumvented and sexual responsivity with pleasure and excitement to a member of the same sex develops as a pathologic alternative."

1962 - Irving Bieber, MD 

Charles Socarides, MD, Founder of the National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), wrote the following statement in the article titled "How America Went Gay," from the Leadership University website leaderu.com (accessed Oct. 9, 2006):
"For more than 20 years, I and a few of my colleagues in the field of psychoanalysis have felt like an embattled minority, because we have continued to insist, against today's conventional wisdom, that gays aren't born that way."

Oct. 9, 2006 - Charles Socarides, MD 

Neil E. Whitehead, PhD, scientific research consultant, wrote the following information in his book My Genes Made Me Do It!, published in 1999:
"The stages of psycho-social development toward adult heterosexuality are clearly demarcated, known and understood by developmental psychologists, and are so obviously learned that heterosexuality is clearly not genetically mandated. Surveys of adult homosexuals show conspicuous deficits in several of these developmental stages - showing that homosexuality is cultural and environmental rather than genetic."

1999 - Neil E. Whitehead, PhD 

The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property, a nonprofit religious organization, wrote the following on its website TFP.org (accessed Sep. 6, 2006):
"In its effort to give homosexuality all the appearances of normality, the homosexual movement has turned to science in an attempt to prove three major premises:

1. homosexuality is genetic or innate; 2. homosexuality is irreversible; 3. since animals engage in same-sex sexual behavior, it is natural.

Liberal media have been only too willing to anticipate the verdict of the scientific community and spread the false impression that science validates homosexuality. The evidence could not be more contrary."

Sep. 6, 2006 - American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property (TFP) 

The Catholic Medical Association, a nonprofit religious organization, wrote the following opinion in "Statement of the Catholic Medical Association," and published in Nov. 2000 by NARTH.com:
"If the emotional and developmental needs of each child are properly met by both family and peers, the development of same-sex attraction is very unlikely."

Nov. 2000 - Catholic Medical Association 

The Family Research Council, a religious organization that promotes Judeo-Christian values, wrote the following statements on its website FRC.org in Sep. 2003:
"[W]hat do we really know about the science of behavior? Not much. Scientific studies have done more to confirm the complexities of human behavior than they have to isolate specific causes. ...

Scientists have not even come close to proving a genetic or biological cause for homosexuality, yet homosexual activists continue to say that sexual activity between members of the same sex is 'just the same' as race or gender. Using 'biology' as a stamp of legitimacy, activists have pushed for special rights, from sex-partner subsidies to 'gay marriage' to adoption. Without scientific evidence to support such claims, it is wrong and dangerously misleading to say that people are born homosexual and cannot change."

Sep. 2003 - Family Research Council 

NEW SITE - Is there really a Santa Claus? - NEW SITE
Visit the ProCon.org community on:

© 2014 ProCon.org, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit     |   233 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 200, Santa Monica, CA 90401    |    Tel: 310-451-9596