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Did Scientists Just Find The Gay Gene? Or An LGBT On-Off Switch?

by David Badash on December 11, 2012

in News

Post image for Did Scientists Just Find The Gay Gene? Or An LGBT On-Off Switch?

Some scientists are claiming that homosexuality and heterosexuality may not necessarily be regulated by our genes, but regulated by other “switches” that determine how our genes “decide” whom we become. So, yes, you were born that way, and any parent who has a “problem” with their child’s non-heterosexuality has only themselves, or, rather, their biology, to blame.

“Epigenetics – how gene expression is regulated by temporary switches, called epi-marks – appears to be a critical and overlooked factor contributing to the long-standing puzzle of why homosexuality occurs,” an article from the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS) reports today:

According to the study, published online today in The Quarterly Review of Biology, sex-specific epi-marks, which normally do not pass between generations and are thus “erased,” can lead to homosexuality when they escape erasure and are transmitted from father to daughter or mother to son.

From an evolutionary standpoint, homosexuality is a trait that would not be expected to develop and persist in the face of Darwinian natural selection. Homosexuality is nevertheless common for men and women in most cultures. Previous studies have shown that homosexuality runs in families, leading most researchers to presume a genetic underpinning of sexual preference. However, no major gene for homosexuality has been found despite numerous studies searching for a genetic connection.

In the current study, researchers from the Working Group on Intragenomic Conflict at the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS) integrated evolutionary theory with recent advances in the molecular regulation of gene expression and androgen-dependent sexual development to produce a biological and mathematical model that delineates the role of epigenetics in homosexuality.

Epi-marks constitute an extra layer of information attached to our genes’ backbones that regulates their expression. While genes hold the instructions, epi-marks direct how those instructions are carried out – when, where and how much a gene is expressed during development. Epi-marks are usually produced anew each generation, but recent evidence demonstrates that they sometimes carry over between generations and thus can contribute to similarity among relatives, resembling the effect of shared genes.


This video explains epigenetics, and starting at the 3:24 mark, explains why some people’s sexual orientation can change over time. And why your grandmother’s choice to smoke might actually affect your health:

So, bottom line, you were “born that way,” and the religious right needs to get used to that. The only choice you had was made before you were born.

Curiously, “NIMBioS is sponsored by the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture with additional support from The University of Tennessee, Knoxville.”

Conspiracy theorists, do with that what you will!


Image, top, via SciShow video

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{ 1 comment }

RussWindle December 12, 2012 at 7:41 am

No, I am surprised that this "OLD" argument is being bought up again, I first read about this same Swedish theory in SIRS (Social Issues Research System) in the eighties. The only difference is that the Swed. study claimed if the mother was going through emotional stress during the last 6 months of her pregnancy, her child would be homosexual or the switch would be flipped. This was overturned later using same egg and different egg children.

If a mother was carrying two children in a different egg, she could have heterosexual, homosexual, or a homosexual and a heterosexual child. If she were under emotional stress, according to the Swedish study both would be homosexual, which was later found not to be the case.
If a mother had two children that shared the same egg (identical twins) their sexuality would be either heterosexual or homosexual no variant.

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