John M. Becker

Gallup Finds Americans Split on Origins of Homosexuality

Filed By John M. Becker | May 29, 2014 4:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: Gallup poll, homosexuality, nature vs. nurture, origins of homosexuality

survey.jpgA new poll from Gallup finds that Americans are divided on the origins of homosexuality:

In a year when the movement for same-sex marriages continues to make strides across the U.S., Americans remain divided on how people come to be gay or lesbian. More than a third of Americans (37%) believe people become gay as a result of factors such as their upbringing and environment, while 42% say people are born gay. This latter belief is down slightly from 2013, when nearly half (47%) believed people were gay at birth.

These results are from Gallup's annual Values and Beliefs poll, conducted May 8-11. Americans' views on this question have evolved over time. When Gallup first asked about the origins of same-sex orientation in 1977, over half of Americans (56%) attributed it to an individual's upbringing and environment, while 13% believed it to be something a gay person is born with.

This gap in opinions narrowed over the time, and by 2001, Americans were more likely to believe in homosexuality as occurring at birth (40%) for the first time, though only by one percentage point. Since then, Americans have been roughly equally divided over this question, although with some year-to-year fluctuations in the precise percentages. Although this pattern appeared to be changing last year, when the belief that people are born gay rose to an all-time high of 47% after a slight increase in 2012, this year's slight downtick in the "born with" belief, halted the trend.

The scientific community does not agree on one unified viewpoint regarding the issue of a person's sexual orientation. According to the American Psychological Association, "there is no consensus among scientists about the exact reasons that an individual develops a heterosexual, bisexual, gay, or lesbian orientation."

Check out Gallup's full report here.


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