Research into the determinations of one’s sexual orientation includes researched based in brain difference, genetics, and hormones and includes research done with twins with different environmental influences (Hock & Roger, 2009). Some brain based research indicated the “third interstitial nucleus” located within the hypothalamus and central to emotions and sexual urges, while other brain based research has indicated the degree of symmetry between brain hemispheres and the neural connections among right and left brain structures also play a role in the development of sexual orientation (Hock & Roger, 2009). As hormonal changes after birth do not seem to change sexual orientation hormonal research largely focuses on fetal hormone exposure in utero (Hock & Roger, 2009). Other research indicated that the correlations seen in between birth order and sexual orientation are real, but the reasoning behind the correlation is hard to determine (Hock & Roger, 2009). Lastly, some genetic correlation has been found indicating that a “genetic relatedness” does increase the likelihood of similarity in siblings’ sexual orientation (Hock & Roger, 2009). In spite of our best attempts to find the root of sexual orientation no direct evidence has been linked to solely to brain, genetic, or hormonal differences alone (Hock & Roger, 2009).
I personally am not sure there is an exact reason we need to know what determines ones sexual orientation as we have existed this far without this knowledge, but I am sure there are plenty of reasons we would like to know. Ultimately and sadly, I think that many people would like to know because they think it would support their own usually heterocentric or even religious beliefs. Others think it is important to know because some fundamental rights given to heterosexual such as “inheritance when the partner dies, participation in medical decisions, insurance coverage from a partner’s employment, child custody rights, family leave benefits, domestic violence protection, and community property rights in the case of divorce” have been denied to those who are non-heterosexual (Hock & Roger, 2009). Some people assert that proving that homosexuality is a normal variation of human sexuality will make, “laws forbidding discrimination based on such differences might become easier to legislation” (Hock & Roger, 2009). I personally think it is wrong that many people think we should/need to know these things to provide equal treatment to non-heterosexual persons, after all we do not know what caused heterosexuality. I think non-heterosexual people should be able to do what they want without judgment or restriction sexually and relationally providing it is done consensually within the context two sexually similarly mature persons (i.e. not being performed with Adults/minors). One maybe very legit reason to know is clear to me: to emotionally validate all sexual orientations as normal to those who not heterosexual and have been told it is wrong, bad or immoral for any reason.
Ethical, social and legal implications of finding out what determines one sexual orientation would be the obvious desire of some to pursue alteration of their sexual orientation through some form of “manipulation”. I am almost certain that our leading research will certainly lead us to more political drama concerning rights and genetic alterations etc no matter what we find. I personally think most of the explorative research we will do can lead to us having a better understanding of gene expression and how in utero development affects many parts of human beings -not just our sexuality. I personally hope our discoveries will help end all this fighting about gay rights and will lead us to be more understanding of the different sexual orientations so that all people feel accepted and equal.
Hock, Ph.D & Roger R. H. (2009). Sexual Orientation. Human Sexuality. 2nd Edition. Retrieved from Pearson Learning Solutions VitalBook file.