Religious Right Rejects Study, Suggests Conversion Therapy

Jim Denison, head of the eponymously-named Christian Denison Institute, rejected the study because genetics is only one factor of sexuality. Image via The Veritas Forum.

A study was published recently that states that there are genetic markers that at least partially dictate one’s sexuality, but some people on the religious right decided to ignore the results of the study and instead say that because sexuality isn’t 100% genetic, people should still try conversion therapy, according to LGBTQ Nation

The religious right questioned the study of course, saying that the science can’t be trusted, as Pastor Robert Jeffress, a religious Trump supporter, said, “Studies have suggested a genetic link to alcoholism, to violence, and even to adultery,” and that such behavior, along with homosexuality, shouldn’t be excused just because genetics play a role. 

Additionally, the study shows that there are many genetics factors that dictate sexuality as well as environmental and social factors. Because genetics play a small part in sexuality, the religious right chose to come to their own conclusion: gay people should seek conversion therapy because sexuality is partially a result of social and environmental factors, ignoring the fact that there is, in fact, some genetic components involved in the formation of sexuality. Jim Denison, head of the right-wing group the Christian Denison Institute, confirmed this way of thinking when he said: “Even if up to 32 percent of a person’s same-sex sexual behavior is genetically conditioned, this means that more than two-thirds of their sexual behavior is not.” So he admitted that there is a genetic component but focused only on the other factors that determine sexuality. 

Rod Dreher, a columnist for American Conservative, echoed Denison’s words and suggested that conversion therapy is logical by saying “If homosexuality is primarily a matter of nurture, not nature, why is it wrong to let gay people who want to seek therapy in hope of reducing or eliminating same-sex desire undergo that treatment?,” effectively misrepresenting what the study actually revealed. I’m no geneticist but I understand how genetics work.

Take eye color for example; I have blue eyes, my dad has hazel eyes, and my mom and sisters have brown eyes. The variety of eye color within my family is a result of fifteen different genes working together to determine the amount of melanin is in our eyes. Another example is skin pigmentation; everyone has more or less the same amount of melanocytes but not everyone has the same amount of melanin in their skin because of different genetic markers. These examples are similar to sexuality being partially genetic as there are many different genetic markers that play a role in the formation of certain, innate characteristics. Yes, sexuality is also determined by external factors, but there is a genetic component in determining one’s immutable sexual orientation. That is what people like Denison and Dreher fail to understand. 

I know that my being gay was not a choice and I also know that I started feeling attraction to other boys in the form of innocent crushes as early as third grade. If I knew that I was attracted to people of the same sex at the age of eight without knowing anything on the topic of sexuality, it’s safe to assume that I was pretty much born that way. And even if being gay were a choice (which it’s not), it shouldn’t matter anyway; everyone deserves basic respect and the right to live their lives authentically. 

Source: LGBTQ Nation

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