10 Myths About Sexual Orientation Debunked By Science

10 Myths About Sexual Orientation Debunked By Science

In recognition of June being LGBT Pride Month, I'll be running several LGBT-themed posts on the blog over the next few weeks. To start us off, let's debunk some of the most common myths and misconceptions about sexual orientation. 

1.) Homosexuality is contagious (i.e., you can "catch the gay"). Research has failed to find support for the idea that same sex attraction is transmitted through social contact. For example, a recent, large-scale study found that same-sex attraction does not spread within adolescent peer groups. Likewise, other research has found that gay parents are no more likely to raise gay children than their heterosexual counterparts.

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Sex Laws in the Netherlands

Sex Laws in the Netherlands

I've been researching sex laws in the Netherlands as part of the study abroad course on sex and culture that I'm teaching. One of the ways sex laws in the Netherlands are unique compared to the US is that prostitution and brothels are legal and regulated by the government--but you probably already knew that. So here are a few other legal differences that might be new to you. 

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The Link Between Homophobia and Insomnia and Why It Matters For LGB Health

The Link Between Homophobia and Insomnia and Why It Matters For LGB Health

Sexual minority individuals—that is, people who identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual, or who otherwise report same-sex attraction or behavior—are at increased risk for developing a number of physical health problems relative to people who are exclusively heterosexual. As some evidence of this, consider a new study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, which analyzed the health of sexual minorities in the United States using a nationally representative sample of more than 30,000 Americans [1].

No matter what measure of sexual orientation was utilized in this study (LGB identity, same-sex attraction, same-sex behavior), sexual minorities were at increased risk of various health problems compared to heterosexuals.

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What Percentage of the Population is Lesbian, Gay, or Bisexual? (Infographic)

What Percentage of the Population is Lesbian, Gay, or Bisexual? (Infographic)

How many people are lesbian, gay, or bisexual (LGB)? For one answer, check out the infographic below, which summarizes recent data from Britain's National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles. As you'll see, the researchers asked about sexual orientation in three different ways: sexual identity, sexual attraction, and sexual behavior--and each one yielded quite different numbers. It might be tempting to think that people's responses to these questions would line up, but they don't for several reasons including the fact that sexuality can be fluid and some people with same-sex attractions are uncomfortable with them and choose not to identify as a sexual minority. 

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Sexual Orientation and Mental Health: Are Bisexuals at Greater Risk for Depression and Anxiety?

Sexual Orientation and Mental Health: Are Bisexuals at Greater Risk for Depression and Anxiety?

Psychologists have long known that gays and lesbians have an elevated risk of depression and anxiety compared to heterosexual individuals. This health disparity is thought to be due in large part to the chronic, high levels of stress faced by sexual minorities due to their stigmatized social status.

But what about bisexual persons? Do they face similar mental health disparities? Are they perhaps even worse off due to the fact that bisexuals often face prejudice from both the gay and heterosexual communities? Unfortunately, most research on the mental health of sexual minorities has lumped bisexuals together with gays and lesbians, making it difficult to determine exactly how bisexual individuals stack up relative to other groups. However, a new review paper published in the Journal of Sex Research offers some insight.

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What “Counts” As Sex To Gay, Lesbian, And Bisexual Adults?

What “Counts” As Sex To Gay, Lesbian, And Bisexual Adults?

Research has found that there’s a lot of variability when it comes to what people define as “sex.” Perhaps not surprisingly, this means there’s a lot of variability when it comes to how they define “abstinence,” too. This only makes sense because, after all, these things go hand in hand: when people don’t think a certain intimate activity “counts” as having sex, they may consider themselves to be abstinent no matter how many times they’ve done it. For example, a lot of people don’t think oral sex counts, so they may say they’re abstinent despite the fact that it’s something they regularly do.

Though several studies have looked at people’s definitions of sex and abstinence, pretty much all of them to date have focused exclusively on heterosexual persons. This begs the question of how gay, lesbian, and bisexual adults define these terms.

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People Are More Willing To Have Sex With Bisexuals Than Have Relationships With Them

People Are More Willing To Have Sex With Bisexuals Than Have Relationships With Them

Bisexual people, both male and female, tend to be stereotyped negatively. For example, they are often seen as sexually confused, secretly gay, highly promiscuous, and incapable of monogamy. These negative views of bisexuals are held not just by many heterosexual persons, but also by many gays and lesbians as well. A recent study suggests that the popularity of these negative stereotypes could have implications for the sexual and romantic lives of bisexual persons.

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10 Sexual Orientation Myths Debunked By Science

10 Sexual Orientation Myths Debunked By Science

In recognition of June being LGBT Pride Month, I'll be running several LGBT-themed posts on the blog in the coming weeks. Let's kick things off today by debunking some of the most common misconceptions and false beliefs about sexual orientation. 

1.) Homosexuality is contagious. Research has failed to find support for the idea that same sex attraction can be transmitted through social contact. For example, a recent, large-scale study found that same-sex attraction does not spread within adolescent peer groups. Likewise, other research has found that gay parents are no more likely to raise gay children than their heterosexual counterparts.

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What Sex Laws Look Like in the Netherlands

What Sex Laws Look Like in the Netherlands

As part of the study abroad course I’m currently teaching on Sex and Culture in the Netherlands, I’ve done some research into what sex laws look like over here. As I wrote in previous posts about this class, two of the ways that laws in the Netherlands are unique compared to the United States are that prostitution is legal and comprehensive sex education is mandated. However, those are just a couple of the most interesting differences. Here are a few more:

1.) Sex and the disabled. The Netherlands doesn’t just have legal prostitution—they also have government-subsidized prostitution for certain segments of the population. Specifically, disabled citizens are eligible to receive government assistance to hire sex workers. Why? Because sex is seen as a right—something that everyone who wants to participate in should be able to enjoy. Also, it’s something that’s seen as good for people’s mental and physical health.

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Same-Sex Marriage May Be Good For Gay, Lesbian, And Bisexual Health

Same-Sex Marriage May Be Good For Gay, Lesbian, And Bisexual Health

Several studies have found that when laws permitting same-sex marriage are passed, the health outcomes of sexual minorities in the local area seem to improve. This holds true for indicators of both physical and psychological well-being. Here's a review of the most provocative evidence to emerge so far supporting this idea:

First, a 2012 U.S. study found that, in the state of Massachusetts, there was a significant decrease in the number of visits made by gay and bisexual men to healthcare providers for both medical and mental health issues in the year after same-sex marriage was legalized in that state [1].

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Changes in Americans’ Views on Sexual Morality in the Past 15 Years

Changes in Americans’ Views on Sexual Morality in the Past 15 Years

The results of Gallup's 2016 Moral Issues Survey reveal that Americans’ views on sexual morality have shifted in several important ways in the last fifteen years. Most notable are changes in the number of Americans who believe same-sex behavior, sex before marriage, and having children outside of marriage are morally acceptable. While there have been substantial shifts in those attitudes, Americans’ attitudes toward other sexual issues—particularly abortion and affairs—haven’t really changed at all. Check out the table below for a closer look at the numbers from 2001 compared to today.

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Study: Gay Men are Shorter on Average Compared to Straight Men

Study: Gay Men are Shorter on Average Compared to Straight Men

In recent years, scientists have found that sexual orientation is related to a wide range of physical features. Among other things, studies have reported that sexual orientation is linked to facial symmetryfinger length ratios (specifically, the length of the second digit compared to the fourth digit), as well as which hand is dominant. A new study published in the Journal of Sex Research suggests that height is one additional physical feature we should add to this growing list, at least for men.

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How Americans' Views On Sexual Morality Have Changed

How Americans' Views On Sexual Morality Have Changed

The results of Gallup's annual Values and Beliefs survey reveal that Americans’ views on sexual morality continue to shift in major ways, with particularly notable changes in the perceived acceptability of same-sex behavior, sex before marriage, and having children outside of marriage. At the same time, however, attitudes toward issues such as abortion and affairs have remained largely the same. Check out the table below for details on the specific changes in moral attitudes that have taken place since 2001.

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Sex Question Friday: How Many Straight People Have Had Same-Sex Partners?

Sex Question Friday: How Many Straight People Have Had Same-Sex Partners?

A reader submitted the following question:

“How common is it for straight guys to experiment with other guys?”

Good question! Although there is a common tendency to think that anyone can be put into a neat little box that describes their sexuality (e.g., gay, straight, bisexual), the truth of the matter is that these boxes obscure the fact that there’s actually a lot of fluidity and flexibility in the sexual desires and behaviors of both men and women. Indeed, it’s not at all uncommon for heterosexually-identified persons to have same-sex encounters and for gay- and lesbian-identified persons to have encounters with the other sex. Let’s take a look at some of the data supporting this conclusion.

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10 Scientific Facts About Sexual Orientation

10 Scientific Facts About Sexual Orientation

There are a lot of myths and misconceptions out there about sexual orientation concerning everything from the origin of homosexuality to the sexual behaviors of gay, lesbian, and bisexual individuals. So let’s take a look at what the research actually says. Below, I’ve compiled a list of ten of the most interesting scientific facts about sexual orientation that everyone should know.

1.) According to the National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior, 7.8% of men and 6.8% of women in the U.S. identify as something other than heterosexual (check out this infographic for a more detailed breakdown of these numbers).

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Sexual Orientation Stats In The United States (Infographic)

Sexual Orientation Stats In The United States (Infographic)

One of the most common questions I receive about sexual orientation concerns the percentage of the population that is gay, lesbian, or bisexual. People seem to have wildly different ideas about what the answer is, so I created the infographic below to highlight the difference between what people think and what the research actually says.

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Dear President Putin: Homosexuality And Pedophilia Are Not The Same Thing

Dear President Putin: Homosexuality And Pedophilia Are Not The Same Thing

In a recent media interview, Russian President Vladimir Putin tried to reassure the world that gay and lesbian visitors should not be afraid of attending this year's Olympics in Sochi. However, he asks that they please "leave the children in peace." He then went on to say that "we have no ban on nontraditional sexual relations. We have a ban on propaganda of homosexuality and pedophilia, I want to underline that, on propaganda among minors." Putin's statements appear to conflate homosexuality with pedophila and child molestation, something that anti-gay folks have been doing for years (e.g., remember all of those people who tried to say that the Catholic Church's child sex scandals were a "homosexual problem" that could be solved simply by getting rid of gay priests?). In light of Putin's comments, I thought it would be worth taking a look at what the research actually says when it comes to homosexuality, pedophilia, and child molestation.

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Myths About Lesbian Sex Debunked By Science

Myths About Lesbian Sex Debunked By Science

When it comes to lesbian sex, there are a lot of myths and misconceptions. On the one hand, many people think lesbians are constantly “scissoring,” and on the other hand, many people think lesbians hardly ever have sex because “lesbian bed death” is inevitable. In this article, we will separate fact from fiction when it comes to the sex lives of lesbians.

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Can Science Help Reduce GLBT Hate Crimes?

Can Science Help Reduce GLBT Hate Crimes?

Hate crimes are an all too common reality in the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) community. There have been countless instances in recent years in which GLBT persons have been the victims of vicious attacks because of their actual or perceived identity. Despite the increased social acceptance of GLBT individuals we have witnessed, the number of hate crimes has actually risen in many areas, including some places that are considered to be relatively gay-friendly (e.g., New York City). So is there anything that can be done to reduce and prevent future hate crimes? This is the research question Dr. Karen Blair of the University of Utah hopes to answer in a planned study, but she needs our help in order to carry out this important research project.

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Men’s And Women’s Attitudes Toward Male And Female Bisexuals

Men’s And Women’s Attitudes Toward Male And Female Bisexuals

Over the past two decades, psychologists have devoted significant research attention to understanding the origin and nature of prejudice against gays and lesbians. At the same time, prejudice against bisexuals has been largely overlooked. What little research exists on this topic suggests that bisexuals are typically viewed negatively—and, not only that, but in national U.S. survey data, bisexuals are actually viewed less favorably than persons who are exclusively gay [1]. So where does this negativity come from? And do people feel differently about male vs. female bisexuals? A new study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior yields some answers to these questions.

 

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