February 1st, 2005

Non-sex genes 'link to gay trait'

Non-sex genes 'link to gay trait'
Multiple genes - and not just the sex chromosomes - are important in sexual orientation, say US scientists.
A University of Illinois team, which has screened the entire human genome, say there is no one 'gay' gene.

Writing in the journal Human Genetics, they said environmental factors are also likely to be involved.

The findings add to the debate over whether sexual orientation is a matter of choice. Campaigners say equality is the more important issue.

Non-sex genes

Much of the past genetic research into male homosexuality had focused solely on the X chromosome, passed down to boys by their mother, according to lead researcher Dr Brian Mustanski.

His team looked at all 22 pairs of non-sex chromosomes of 456 individuals from 146 families with two or more gay brothers.

They found several identical stretches of DNA that were shared among gay siblings on chromosomes other than the female X.

About 60% of these brothers shared identical DNA on three chromosomes - chromosome 7, 8 and 10.

Complex trait

If it were down to chance, only 50% of these stretches would be shared, said the authors.

The region found on chromosome 10 correlated with sexual orientation only when it was inherited from the mother.

Dr Mustanski said the next step would be to see if the findings could be confirmed by further studies, and to identify the particular genes within the newly discovered sequences that are linked to sexual orientation.

"Our study helps to establish that genes play an important role in determining whether a man is gay or heterosexual," he said, but added that other factors were also important.

"Sexual orientation is a complex trait. There is no one 'gay' gene.

"Our best guess is that multiple genes, potentially interacting with environmental influences, explain differences in sexual orientation."

Alan Wardle from the gay rights charity Stonewall said: "It's an interesting study that contributes further to the debate.

"Regardless of whether sexual orientation is determined by nature or nurture or both, the most important thing is that lesbians and gay men are treated equally and are allowed to live their life without discrimination."

Story from BBC NEWS:

GLBTQ high school facing legal challenge, and "normal until proven abnormal"

New York magazine has an article about the legal challenges to the continued existence of Harvey Milk High School, a small high school that grew out of a social services organization serving GLBTQ youth in downtown Manhattan.

It says in part...Collapse )

This passage is from the middle of the article but gets at the meat of it (you can get the rest including photos at the link at the top of this post). I found the article remarkably good for one with such a mainstream orientation, except for an awkwardly-written moment at the end about "gender dysphoria." Anyway, it is so frustrating to me what gets lost in the legalese here, that "discrimination" is talked about as if defining the legal subject as possessing a sexual/gender identity at all is the problem and not the social context of hatred and violence against LGBTQ youth that programs like this are addressing. And fuck Jonathan Turley for buying into the fallacy that these 100 students are the only queer students in New York City and talking about this as if it's an either/or decision of this or nondiscrimination education and policy in the other high schools as a way to address homophobia, transphobia, etc.

From what I know of this school, it is a last resort to keep students at huge disadvantage, often homeless or quasi-homeless, and at extreme risk of falling out of the school system, within it. It is also, though the article elides these people into the usual tacked-on term at the end of the string of more-understandable-to-their-audience identities, one of the only places dedicated to making sure a transgendered kid can safely get an education. I certainly hope that they come up with a stronger response strategy than "Oh, we'd be happy to let straight kids in too" before the conservatives and the milquetoast, rumored to be closeted Mayor let the school die.

To end on a note other than FYI/ranty/outing public officials, I wonder if anyone has any thoughts on how to translate this kind of contextual reality into a feasible legal model. I would assume that HM could alter its admissions policy to require proof of discrimination at the student's original school, or something, but I am curious about how this kind of "reverse discrimination" argument can be legalistically refuted for this and a variety of oppressions. Or if it can be, based on how legal language is structured.