NARTH Advisory Board Member Notes Flaws In Italian Study On Mothers Of Homosexuals
November 4, 2004 – Dr. Gerard Schoenewolf, a psychotherapist and member of the NARTH Advisory Board has issued a statement noting the flaws in a recently published Italian study of the mothers of male homosexuals. Dr. Schoenewolf is director of The Living Center in New York City.
The study, “Evidence for maternally inherited factors favouring male homosexuality and promoting female fecundity,” was published in the British Proceedings of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences.
Researchers said their study shows that mothers of homosexual men have slightly higher fertility rates than do mothers of heterosexuals, which may be attributed to as yet undiscovered genetic factors linked to male homosexuality.
NARTH’s article, “Italian Researchers Believe that Genetic Factors May Increase Fertility In Mothers Of Gay Males,” provides additional details on this study.
Dr. Schoenewolf read the Italian study and made the following observations:
“After reading over the article one thing stuck out: Throughout the whole article, there was not one attempt to explore whether the greater fecundity of mothers of homosexuals or the fact that homosexuals tend to have more older brothers could have environmental implications. This is typical of studies of this kind, and is a clue that the article is biased and that the authors are simply not interested in finding environmental explanations.”The slightly higher fertility by mothers of homosexuals, leading to larger families, may not point to genetics at all, but to the fact that larger families are more likely to promote the family dynamics that condition a homosexual orientation. For example, mothers who give birth to more sons are more likely to pick out one son to be their special favorite. Sometimes a mother will want a daughter, and after two or three sons she will treat the next son like the daughter she always wanted. And sometimes the father takes a special interest in the first son but loses interest in the others, which likewise might contribute to the formation of homosexuality. None of this is explored at all in this article.
“Likewise, the finding that homosexuals tend to have more older brothers could be explored in terms of the environmental impact. Psychodynamic studies have shown that, for example, the youngest brother is often the one that is most likely to be babied by the mother the longest, and this factor might contribute to the formation of homosexuality. Also older brothers tend to pick on and dominate younger brothers, a factor which might also influence the boy’s feelings about himself and his ability to compete in the world of men. One of my patients had an older brother who was quite cruel and used to constantly call him a sissy and a little fag. His mother, meanwhile, overprotected him.
“The article is couched in very empirical terms, using a lot of statistical language and scientific jargon, in order to hide the fact that it is biased,. But what the article boils down to is a survey, and all the author can conclude from a survey is that mothers of homosexuals are more fertile and homosexual have more older brothers. It cannot conclude that this is evidence of genetics. Yes, there is a link between fertile mothers and homosexuality, but we don’t know what it means. And yes, there is a link between homosexuals and more older brothers but again we don’t know what it means.
“To interpret, as the authors seem to do, that genetic factors may increase the fertility of mothers of homosexuals in order for them to give birth to gay males is a leap in reasoning, to say the least.”