In DepthHuman Genetics

Giant study links DNA to same-sex experiences

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Science  26 Oct 2018:
Vol. 362, Issue 6413, pp. 385-386
DOI: 10.1126/science.362.6413.385

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Summary

How genes influence sexual orientation has sparked debate for at least a quarter-century. But geneticists have had only a handful of underpowered studies to address a complex, fraught, and often stigmatized area of human behavior. Now, in the largest-ever study of the genetics of sexual orientation, researchers examined data from hundreds of thousands of people who provided both DNA and behavioral information to two genetic surveys. The team analyzed DNA markers from people who answered either "yes" or "no" to the question, "Have you ever had sex with someone of the same sex?" The scientists found four genetic variants strongly associated with what they call nonheterosexual behavior. Some geneticists are hailing the findings as a cautious but significant step in understanding the role of genes in sexuality. Others question the wisdom of asking the question in the first place.

  • * With reporting by Jocelyn Kaiser. Michael Price is a science journalist in San Diego, California.