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Sexual orientation, a term used to describe
patterns of attraction, aids in the discovery of an individual’s sense of self
and social identity. Individuals who admit to being attracted to those of the same
sex, which accounts for the minority, are labeled as homosexuals. Before
answering, “Is sexual orientation a choice or is it innate,” an individual must
first understand the trial and tribulations that have faced the LGBTQ community.
For a long time, social institutions considered homosexuality a mental illness. According
to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, “gender identity refers to a person’s internal
sense of being male, female or something else” (Merriam-Webster). Educators
note, “While the inclusion of transgendered issues in the lesbian, gay, and
bisexual movement is controversial to some, gender and sexual orientation
intersect in inseparable ways,” (Fraynd 1). The growing interest of sexual
orientation and gender identity sparked from the legalization of same-sex
marriage as well as the implementation of gender-neutral bathrooms. The main
arguments attempt to govern whether sexual orientation and gender identity are
determined from nature or nurture. With the plethora of research based on
speculations and perceptible assertions, it becomes increasingly difficult to
ascertain the reliability of one theory.

Those who maintain sexual orientation as
product of nature focus on fetuses, the gay gene, and the redundancy of
reparative therapy. Homosexuals are more likely than heterosexuals to have
biological homosexual siblings. Scientists noticed an increasing number of
studies show that having older male siblings increases the odds of a male being
homosexual. This suggests that the more males a woman has the chances that he
will be a homosexual increase. Journalist Chandler Burr predicts that tests for
a “gay gene” would be performed on fetuses in the future, noting the genetic
component in sexual orientation (Burr 282). The gay gene was identified in twentieth
century and was interpreted as a correlation between the genetic marker Xq28
and the sexuality of males (O’ Riordan 364). 
In the twentieth century, most sexuality and genome stories had been
exclusively about gay men because gay men were seen as rare and unnatural.  A study conducted by Helen Sweeting on participants
and their judgements on sexual relations; the study claims that present studies
are consistent with the proposition that heterosexual-identified people may be
constructing their beliefs about brain nuclei, genes, and hormones to fit their
sexual politics (Sweeting 381).  The
author gives multiple examples of experiments and biological studies that have
been done, gauging the opinions of both American and British citizens; suppling
the needed diversity of different subcultures. 
The gay gene has no biochemical make up, however, the gay gene has
persisted as a reference in multiple social media news outlets about biomedical
research. The American Medical Association and the American Psychiatric
Association APA, launched the idea that homosexuality should not be treated
as a mental disorder, this organization also oppose conversion therapy
(Mitchell 1000).  Even, ex-gay ministries
do not claim to change an individual’s inner sexual desires, just their
physical conduct. Many of those who have gone through conversion therapies withdraw
from earlier claims of being “cured,” because of the shame and guilt that was
instilled in them.

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Individuals who maintain that sexual
orientation as a product of nurture focus on traditional social theories,
scriptures from the bible, and the preservation of adolescence. Since the 19th
century, many theories about sexuality and gender identity have been offered,
but the theories remain untestable and contradictory. William S. Wilkerson, a
Professor of Philosophy at the University of Alabama, notes that in the early
nineteenth century, male homosexuality was indeed a product of an absent father
and an overbearing mother. (Wilkerson 102). In the nineteenth century,
patriarchy thrived, and male children were said to need their fathers to teach
them how to be men because women could raise a tough male. Homosexuals have always
been shamed in society, in fact, many religious institutions claim that bible
scriptures do not support organizations that aim to help the LGBTQ community with
living with their status. Religious commentators use the following bible verse
from the book of Romans as a commentary on the theory that sexual orientation serves
as a choice:

“For
this reason, God gave them the ancient heathen over to degrading passions;
for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and
in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and
burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent
acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error (1:26-27).”

Although, researchers insist that the
homosexual lifestyle is degrading and unnatural, they place emphasis on the
idea that Christians should not develop hateful attitudes toward any sinful individual;
rather, they must long for, and work towards, their conversion to the cause of
truth. Religious institutions insist that God will forgive anyone who responds
to his will. (Arndt 1967). When explaining why Christians believe that
sexuality is sinful, religious institutions also refer to 1 Corinthians 6:9-10:

            “Or do you not know that the
unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither
the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice
homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor
swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”

John Pavlovitz, Christian journalist, counter-argues
religious beliefs in determining the ethical principles of homosexuality.
Pavlovitz notices that when Christians reference sexuality as a sin, they are
merely talking about the act of having sex; as if that alone defines sexuality
(Pavlovitz 1). Many cultures, although tolerant, frown upon homosexual practices
and in other cultures, homosexuality serves as a serious criminal offense, in
extreme cases, punishable by death. With the increasing representation of the
LGBTQ community on television, Christian parents are worried that their
children will have homosexual desires. Opponents maintain that media outlets with
sexually-confusing messages introduce children to immorality, while also creating
insecurity.

Gender serves as the foundation of an
individual’s personality, ultimately indicating how they want to express
themselves. Amanda Bittner, an associate professor in the Department of
Political Science at Memorial University in Canada, focuses on gender
self-placement on a continuum in an effort measure to sex. When measuring
individuals who place themselves at the midpoint with those who cross over,
12–13% of the sample, for whom the traditional sex measures, does not work (Bittner
1032). While the biological definition proves gender as a social construct, different
societies have different rules for how men and women should appear and behave,
which often leaves gender identity misunderstood. Individuals who are attracted
to others of the same sex develop their orientation before they are born, and
evidence shows their parents cannot be blamed. Assuming sexual preference is
purely biological, it does not place in a discussion about the possible causes
of homosexuality. Critics will argue that the only way to protect against the
attacks of the religious right. Gender identity can correlate with assigned
sex, or differ completely. Regardless, everyone deserves a chance to share
their experiences, and how they have developed as a person. What an individual learns
about sexual orientation will affect whether they consider the engagement in
homosexual acts to be desirable or not, igniting the start to a conversation that
more research is needed to best measure gender in the future.

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