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Study on Lesbianism

March 27, 1993

Re "Genetic Component Found in Lesbianism, Study Says," March 12:

It is premature and scientifically unsound to present the findings of genetic studies on homosexuality as if they were somehow conclusive and related to civil rights. I am not willing to wait for the correct gene to be found for my civil rights to be ratified. After all, skin color has genetic and biological bases, yet apartheid and racism still exists. Religious preference, on the other hand, has no genetic component, yet it is protected from illegal discrimination.

The headlines and reporting of these genetic studies present only one side of the debate. The media fail to question that the studies make very dubious assumptions about sexual orientation: that it can easily be divided into two discrete categories, that it is related to biological sexual categories of male and female (also unscientifically divided into two discrete categories), and that social meanings of sexual orientation can be explained by genetic and biological structures. When half of the twins in the identical twin samples are not concordant on sexual orientation, the headlines could just as easily read "genetic component not found" since problems in selective sampling and the reality that identical twins are treated identically by parents, siblings and teachers may just as easily explain why half are similar.

After 40 years of genetic studies, they remain inconclusive. What is desperately needed are studies on why people are homophobic, not why people are homosexual.

PETER M. NARDI

Professor of Sociology

Pitzer College, Claremont

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