Lady Gaga may have been wrong. The gay icon’s 2011 megahit “Born This Way,” a clarion call for increased self-acceptance among LGBTQ individuals, was grounded in an argument that has bolstered the contemporary gay rights movement for over a generation. Activists have thrown their weight behind the position that, since sexuality is an inborn trait, people of all orientations deserve equal rights under the law.
Unfortunately, this philosophy does not have science on its side. The vast chorus of personal testimony about the unchangeable nature of sexuality notwithstanding, there is weak scientific evidence supporting the notion that infants emerge from womb already primed as gay, lesbian or bisexual. And a new study now suggests that born-this-way arguments may not actually be the best way to promote acceptance toward gays.
Past research, which this new study contradicts, suggested a connection between homophobia and beliefs about the biological origins of sexuality; specifically, those who consider being gay a choice are more likely to harbor negative attitudes toward the LGBT community.
A 2013 study measured the effect of the Gaga song on attitudes toward gays and gay rights. “Born This Way” did lead to increasing convictions that sexuality is innate. Yet researchers did not find that the anthem directly shifted people’s opinions in favor of gays and lesbians.
The new paper, published in 2014 in the Journal of Counseling Psychology by psychologists at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and the University of Missouri-Columbia, found that, among a group of
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