Last updated on: 3/23/2015 | Author: ProCon.org

Dean Burnett, PhD Biography

Title:
Course Tutor at the Cardiff University Institute of Psychological Medicine and Clinical Neurosciences
Position:
Not Clearly Pro or Con to the question "Is Sexual Orientation Determined at Birth?"
Reasoning:

“While saying that sexuality is set in stone from birth is also not quite right, the main emphasis of those using the choice argument is that homosexuals have weighed up their options and consciously decided ‘I am going to be gay from now on’. Assuming this is true (which it clearly isn’t), WHY would they do this?

If we’re being generous, we could say the choice claim assumes that people have no sexual orientation up to the point where they choose one. And some people choose homosexuality. Presumably this is some time during adolescence when sexual maturity really kicks in, and you know what teenagers are like. Is choosing homosexuality just another example of a desire to not conform, like shaving your head or wearing outlandish clothes?

The trouble with this claim is that teenage rebellion is largely temporary; hair grows back, outfits can be changed. But those who ‘choose’ homosexuality really seem to stick with it. So maybe it’s a ‘lifestyle’ thing, as many claim? This suggests that those who are about to choose their sexual orientation look at the consequences of homosexuality and think it’s a better option. They see the oppression, the suicide rates, the discrimination and harassment, the inequality, the increased risk of mental health issues, or abandonment from your family; they see all this and think ‘I gotta get me some of that’? This seems, to put it mildly, unlikely.”

“Why Would People ‘Choose’ to Be Gay?,” guardian.com, Jan. 8, 2015

Theoretical Expertise Ranking:
    Experts
Individuals with PhDs or equivalent advanced degrees in fields relevant to human sexuality. Also top-level government officials (such as foreign leaders, US presidents, Founding Fathers, Supreme Court Justices, members of legislative bodies, cabinet members, military leaders, etc.) with positions relevant to human sexuality.
Involvement and Affiliations:
  • Course Tutor, Institute of Psychological Medicine and Clinical Neurosciences, Cardiff University
  • Blogger, guardian.com
  • Public speaker and stand-up comedian
  • Regular contributor, National Canadian Radio, BBC Focus magazine, Psychologist magazine, and other media outlets
Education:
  • PhD, Neuroscience, Cardiff University, 2010
Other:
  • Twitter handle: @garwboy
Quoted in:
  1. Is Sexual Orientation Determined at Birth?