Monday, June 20, 2011

What is the prevalence of LGBT?

Gary J. Gates, a demographer-in-residence at the Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy, a think tank based at the University of California, Los Angeles concluded estimates of the percentage of adults who self-identify as lesbian, gay,  bisexual, or transgendered across nine surveys conducted within a seven-year period.  Five of  those surveys were fielded in the United States and the others are from Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Norway  (See Page 3 of this report for a complete list, and individual statistics of each of the 9 studies he reviewed).

In summary, Gates concluded:

- An estimated 3.5% of adults (age 18 and over) in the U.S. identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual.

- An estimated 0.3% of adults identity as transgender.

- Among adults who identify as LGB, bisexuals comprise a slight majority (1.8% compared to 1.7% who identify as lesbian or gay).

- Estimates of those who report any lifetime same-sex sexual behavior and any same-sex sexual attraction are substantially higher than estimates of those who identify as LGB.  An estimated 8.2% report that they have engaged in same-sex sexual behavior and nearly 11% acknowledged at least some same-sex sexual attraction.

See his full summary HERE.

Gate's estimates for sexual identities are higher than what was found earlier in the National Health and Social Life Survey, 1992 which reported:

- An estimate of 2.8% of male adults as identifying as homosexual, gay, lesbian, or bisexual, and

- An estimate of 1.4% of females as identifying as homosexual, gay, lesbian, or bisexual.

Finally, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) in 2011 provided the estimated percentages of adults by sexual identity in five national probability studies; percentage of those reporting same-sex partners in three national probability studies; and percentage of those reporting same-sex desire or attraction in two national probability studies:   Here

Gates' estimate of nearly 11% of LGBs acknowledging at least some same-sex sexual attraction did not support the probability studies reported by IOM.  The average percentage of reporting for same-sex attraction or desire reported by IOM was:  

7.4% of men 
10.4% of women 

If you average the percentages of these 5 probability samples (large scale, random), then the results for homosexual identity would be:

4.1% of men
3.7% of women 

So, this is not too far off of Gates' figure of  3.5%.  

The percents of attractions are higher.  Gates says nearly 11% in general, but if you average the studies IOM listed then you will see the women's stat is close at 10.4%, yet the men's stat is only 7.5%.  So, we can conclude from these findings that less men report same-sex attraction than women in studies of scientific rigor.

Although some people report same-sex attraction (in random study), less are inclined to identify as homosexual, gay, lesbian, or bisexual. 

Facts and Myths on Early Aversion Techniques in the Treatment of Unwanted Homosexual Attractions

From an orginal article by:
A. Dean Byrd, Ph.D., MBA, MPH
James E. Phelan, LCSW, Psy.D.


Aversion techniques are no longer used to treat unwanted homosexual attractions, yet many myths concerning such practices still exist. Beginning in the late 1960’s at several academic institutions, clinical aversive techniques were experimentally introduced as part of the curriculum and investigation of evolving aversive procedures, which were applied to a variety of conditions, including unwanted homosexual attractions (McBride, 1976; Rachman & Teasdale, 1969). Since their introduction, these techniques were the object of varying media coverage. Primarily for public consumption, many of the media reports contained significant misinformation and serious inaccuracies regarding aversive techniques and their uses.

This paper is an attempt to provide accurate information about the use of aversive techniques in general, to address some of the myths associated with aversive techniques, and to provide a more accurate description and assessment of what did and did not occur during the period in which aversive techniques were applied to a variety of client symptoms, including unwanted homosexuality.

Full article: HERE

Friday, April 9, 2010

Psychological Jobs of the Future

Lunar base psychologist (presence on the moon not required)

Living for six months on the ISS is one thing. You are a Soyuz escape pod away from home. But, living on the moon will be a completely different experience. If we have regular flights up to lunar orbit, then you are at least three days away from being back under blue skies. And living in a desolate environment like the Moon could have an adverse psychological impact (studies are underway). Being that far away may give people thoughts of seceding from Earth.

Mars colony psychologist

If you think living on the moon is difficult, try living on Mars for two years, with little to no chance of rescue if things go bad. Add in the 11 minute communication delay and one word sums up your experience: isolated. Our Russian and European friends are already experimenting with extremely long-term disconnectedness (see Mars500). In addition to helping maintain the mental health of any Martian exploration group, a thorough psych exam will be a part of any team-selection process.


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Physicians Caution Educators on Dealing with Sexual Orientation and Gender Confusion

The American College of Pediatricians cautions educators about the management of students experiencing same-sex attraction or exhibiting symptoms of gender confusion. These concerns are outlined in a letter and fact sheet sent by College president Thomas Benton, MD, to all 14, 800 school district superintendents in the U.S. Dr. Benton also alerts them to a new Web resource,, which was created by a coalition of health professionals to provide factual information to educators, parents, and students about sexual development.

“As pediatricians, our primary interest is in the health and well-being of children and youth,” Dr. Den Trumbull, Vice President of the College explains. “We are increasingly concerned that in too many instances, misinformation or incorrect assumptions are guiding well-intentioned educators to adopt policies that are actually harmful to those youth dealing with sexual confusion.”

The College reminds school superintendents that it is not uncommon for adolescents to experience transient confusion about their sexual orientation and that most students will ultimately adopt a heterosexual orientation if not otherwise encouraged. For this reason, schools should not seek to develop policy which “affirms” or encourages these non-heterosexual attractions among students who may merely be experimenting or experiencing temporary sexual confusion. Such premature labeling can lead some adolescents to engage in homosexual behaviors that carry serious physical and mental health risks.

There is no scientific evidence that anyone is born gay or transgendered. Therefore, the College further advises that schools should not teach or imply to students that homosexual attraction is innate, always life-long and unchangeable. Research has shown that therapy to restore heterosexual attraction can be effective for many people.

Optimal health and respect for all students can only be achieved within a school by first respecting the rights of students and parents to accurate information and to self-determination. It is the school’s legitimate role to provide a safe environment for respectful self-expression for all students. It is not the school’s role to diagnose or attempt to treat any student’s medical condition, and certainly not the school’s role to “affirm” a student’s perceived personal sexual orientation.

The American College of Pediatricians is a national organization of pediatricians and other healthcare professionals dedicated to the health and well-being of children. The College produces sound policy, based upon the best available research, to assist parents and to influence society in the endeavor of childrearing.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Article Review: Sexual orientation and psychiatric vulnerability: A twin study of neuroticism and psychoticism

A Review of: Zietsch, B. P, Verweij, K. J. H., Bailey, J. M., Wright, M. J., & Martin, N. G. (2009). Sexual orientation and psychiatric vulnerability: A twin study of neuroticism and psychoticism. Archives of Sexual Behavior, (published online: 09 July 2009, Springer Publications)

Zietsch, Verweij, Bailey, Wright, and Martin (2009) identify themselves as from the Genetic Epidemiology department of The Queensland Institute of Medical Research in Australia, although J. M. Bailey is from Northwestern University in the United States, and no stranger to the study of sexual orientation and genetics. The authors note that from studying the literature, homosexuals and bisexuals on average, are at greater risk for psychiatric problems than heterosexuals.

The current study was done in an effort to find out what mechanisms (e.g. "minority stress," environmental factors, and/or genetic factors) might likely elevate the psychiatric vulnerability of nonheterosexuals. In conducting their literature review, some support was found for a "minority stress" hypothesis, however such support was weakened by the fact that the relationship between sexual orientation and mental health is strong even in socially liberal countries, such as the Netherlands.

To test what mechanism(s) might likely contribute to the psychiatric vulnerabilities of nonheterosexuals, standardized instruments measuring neuroticism and psychoticism were used as estimates of these two broad types of psychiatric vulnerability. Researchers used a classical twin design, where variance in traits, and covariance between them were partitioned into genetic and environmental sources. The sample compared heterosexuals with nonheterosexuals in a community-based (Australian) sample of identical (monozygotic; MZ) and nonidentical (dizygotic; DZ) twins for a total sample size of 4904. These were the same subjects, recruited in 1992, and previously used in a study by Bailey, Dunne, and Martin (2000) (B. P. Zietsch, personal communication, July 23, 2009). Bailey and Martin also contributed to the current study.

The researchers found that scores on both Neuroticism and Psychoticism scales (e.g. Eysenck Personality Questionnaire [EPQ-R]) were significantly elevated in nonheterosexuals compared with heterosexuals, indicating greater vulnerability to neurotic and psychotic disorders, respectively. Secondly, researchers claim that analyses with the genetically informative sample revealed significant genetic correlations (e.g. age, sex, zygosity) between sexual orientation and both Neuroticism and Psychoticism, but corresponding environmental correlations were not significant. This suggested to the authors that some of the genetic variation underlying sexual orientation also affects levels of Neuroticism and Psychoticism. Low opposite-sex pair (genetic) correlation in sexual orientation suggested that "different factors may influence sexual orientation in males and females."

Zietsch, et al., conjecture that it was unlikely that an environmental factor, such as childhood sexual abuse, drives the elevated psychiatric risk in nonheterosexuals by predisposing them to both nonheterosexuality and elevated psychiatric vulnerability. However, unknown non-genetic (environmental) factors not shared between twin pairs, along with measurement error, accounted for over 50% of the variance in sexual orientation.

The authors suggest that these factors could include prenatal effects, idiosyncratic experiences, unequal parental treatment, interactions with siblings, or influences outside the family (e.g., teachers and peers). They go on to suggest that, whatever the specific environmental factors were, they seemed not to overlap much at the population level with the environmental factors underlying Neuroticism or Psychoticism levels, given the very low environmental correlations found. The authors admit that this does not discount the possibility that, in individual cases, an environmental influence during development could lead to a nonheterosexual orientation as well as psychiatric vulnerability.

The authors -- unable to give a definitive answer to whether or not homosexuality is genetically caused -- made a plea that further research be conducted, and stated that if there is a biological correlate of both sexual orientation and psychiatric vulnerability, it might be more clearly observed in brain imaging research.

The authors state clearly,

The finding in our data of genetic correlations between sexual orientation and psychiatric vulnerability should be interpreted with caution, as it does not necessitate that pleiotropic genetic factors are at work. Other causal relationships could also manifest as genetic correlation between sexual orientation and psychiatric vulnerability. It is likely that there are several contributing factors to the elevated psychiatric risk in nonheterosexuals, genetics being one of these factors.
"Caution" indeed. Another key word they used is "likely," but in reality, their estimate of "likelihood" is not definitive. Even those correlates that were discovered (e.g. gender nonconformity), do not explain a genetic basis in totality, as environmental factors also have been observed in some cases (Zucker & Bradley, 1995).

If noncommon environmental factors accounted for more than 50%, and the genetic factors were less, than this in itself shows that the genetic contribution was not 100% and therefore cannot give a "definitive yes" answer to the question "Are people born gay?" Erratic, noncommon (i.e., idiosyncratic) environmental factors are predominant, and this finding is significant.
It should also be pointed out that the finding of elevated psychoticism done in such a standard way is almost unique in the modern literature. Although historically it has been clear that some elements of psychoticism have been associated with various subpopulations of homosexually oriented people, older studies lack the rigor of the current paper. While it is more common to find older papers reporting neurotic aspects of homosexually oriented people, this current paper uses a more general client population and is better controlled methodologically.

The Journal of Human Sexuality (2009), explored the extensive evidence for increased neuroticism among homosexually oriented people. The Zietsch et al. paper is important in that it adds psychoticism as well as neuroticism (in the particular meaning given both terms by the EPQ-R and others) to the surprisingly long list of ills experienced by homosexually oriented people to a significantly greater extent than heterosexuals.


Bailey, J. M., Dunne, M. P., & Martin, N. (2000). Genetic and environmental influences on sexual orientation and its correlates in an Australian twin sample. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 78(3), 524-536.

National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) Scientific Advisory Committee (2009). What research shows: NARTH's response to the American Psychological Association's (APA) claims on homosexuality. Journal of Human Sexuality, 1, 1-128.

Zietsch, B. P, Verweij, K. J. H., Bailey, J. M., Wright, M. J., & Martin, N. G. (2009). Sexual orientation and psychiatric vulnerability: A twin study of neuroticism and psychoticism. Archives of Sexual Behavior, (published online: 09 July 2009, Springer Publications)

Zucker, K. J., & Bradley, S. J. (1995). Gender identity disorder and psychosexual problems in children and adolescents. New York: The Guilford Press.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

2009 CDC HIV Conference: Gay Men and other MSMs Have AIDS 50 Times Greater than Others

Centers for Disease Control (CDC) official Dr. Amy Lansky announced at a plenary session of the 2009 National HIV Prevention Conference (Aug 23-26, Atlanta) the CDC's finding that, in the United States, gay men and other men who have sex with men (MSM) have AIDS at a rate more than 50 times greater than women and non-gay/bi men. This confirms in emphatic terms that of all the disparities and disproportionate impacts in the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the United States, the greatest one is the extraordinarily disproportionate impact on gay and bisexual men -- of all races and ethnicities-- though the most disproportionate impact is on African American gay, bi and other MSM. As incidence estimates released by CDC last year revealed, MSM constitute more than half of all new cases of HIV and are the group in which the number of new cases each continues to slowly increase. What's new today is that the CDC has calculated *rates* of HIV/AIDS prevalence among MSM, not just raw numbers. Lansky says the CDC estimates that there were 692.2 new HIV cases in 2007 per 100,000 MSM. Having a rate as well as the raw numbers allows comparisons for the first time to other population groups at risk, such as women and heterosexual men.

CDC Report on AIDS Cases by Transmission Category HERE

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Induced Abortions Increase Risk of Preterm Births

A recent article in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons concludes that the increased rate of preterm birth (PTB) has a serious adverse effect on children’s health, with a disparate impact on black children. There is substantial evidence that induced abortion (IA) is an important risk factor for PTB. (FULL ARTICLE HERE)


Roonet et al (2008). Does Induced Abortion Account for Racial Disparity in Preterm Births, and Violate the Nuremberg Code? J. of Am. Physicians and Surgs, 13(4), 102-104.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Correlations Between Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation

Review of Two Recent Studies on Correlations between Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation.

1. Drummond, K. D., Bradley, S. J., Peterson-Badali, M., & Zucker, K. J. (2008). A follow-up study of girls with gender identity disorder. Developmental Psychology. 44(1), 34-45.

A panel of experts infamous for treating gender identity disorder (GID) have recently released data of their longitudinal follow-up with 25 girls who had been diagnosed as gender identity disorder (GID). Standardized assessment data in childhood (mean age, 8.88 years; range, 3-12 years) and at follow-up (mean age, 23.24 years; range, 15-36 years) were used to evaluate gender identity and sexual orientation. At the assessment in childhood, 60% of the girls met the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders criteria for GID, and 40% were subthreshold for the diagnosis. At follow-up, 3 participants (12%) were judged to have GID or gender dysphoria. Regarding sexual orientation, 8 participants (32%) were classified as bisexual/ homosexual in fantasy, and 6 (24%) were classified as bisexual/homosexual in behavior. The remaining participants were classified as either heterosexual or asexual. The rates of GID persistence and bisexual/homosexual sexual orientation were substantially higher than base rates in the general female population derived from epidemiological or survey studies. There was some evidence of a "dosage" effect, with girls who were more cross-sex typed in their childhood behavior more likely to be gender dysphoric at follow-up and more likely to have been classified as bisexual/homosexual in behavior (but not in fantasy).

2. Rieger, G., Linsenmeier, J. A. W., Gygax, L., & Bailey, J. M. (2008). Sexual orientation and childhood gender nonconformity: Evidence from home videos. Developmental Psychology. 44(1), 46-58.

This interesting study asserted that homosexual adults tend to be more gender nonconforming than heterosexual adults in some of their behaviors, feelings, and interests. Retrospective studies have also shown large differences in childhood gender nonconformity, but these studies have been criticized for possible memory biases. The authors studied an indicator of childhood gender nonconformity not subject to such biases: childhood home videos. They recruited homosesual and heterosexual men and women (targets) with videos from their childhood and subsequently asked heterosexual and homosexual raters to judge the gender nonconformity of the targets from both the childhood videos and adult videos made for the study. Prehomosexual children were judged more gender nonconforming, on average, than preheterosexual children, and this pattern obtained for both men and women. This difference emerged early, carried into adulthood, and was consistent with self-report. In addition, targets who were more gender nonconforming tended to recall more childhood rejection.

See also: “Gender Identity Disorders In Childhood And Adolescence: A Critical Inquiry And Review Of The Kenneth Zucker Research”

Father’ Involvement and Children’s Developmental Outcomes

Review of study:

Sarkadi, A., Kristiansson, R., Oberklaid, F., & Bremberg, S. (2008). Father’ involvement and children’s developmental outcomes: A systemic review of longitudinal studies. Acta Paediatrica, 97, 153-158.

The authors conducted a systematic review looking at longitudinal evidence on the effects of father involvement on children’s developmental outcomes. Databases were searched for studies that measured the involvement of fathers over time. Out of 22 of the 24 studies found, positive effects of father involvement were described. In conclusion, it was determined that active and regular engagement of the father with the child predicted a range of positive outcomes. That proved true in terms of social, behavioral, psychological, and cognitive development. Interestingly, no specific form of engagement was shown to yield a better outcome over another. This said that it didn’t matter specifically, what the father did with the child, rather the fact that he was engaged paid huge dividends in the child’s development. The authors concluded that father engagement reduced the frequency of behavioral problems in boys and psychological problems in young girls. It also decreased criminality and economic disadvantages. Rightly so, the authors made claim that there was enough support in the literature to urge both professionals and policy makers to improve circumstances for involving fathering.