AP story on the Sanders’ study of gay brothers

The Associated Press reports that the Alan Sanders study of gay brothers continues in search of 1000 pairs of gay brothers.

The study’s website describes the scope and purpose:

In 2003, the N.I.H. funded Dr. Alan R. Sanders, a psychiatrist at Evanston Northwestern Healthcare Research Institute to conduct a five-year study of approximately 1,000 pairs of gay brothers, along with any other available brothers and parents from families recruited from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Australia, i.e., mainly English speaking countries since the materials such as the web site, consent form, and questionnaire are in English.

The purpose of this study is to see whether gay brothers on average share genetic regions inherited from their parents. When studying a trait, such as sexual orientation, with genetic techniques it is much more efficient to focus on the less common variant; hence, we are studying families with gay brothers to learn more about the development of male sexual orientation. This study will shed light on the role of genetics in the development of sexual orientation of human males.

Some research indicates that some very ‘feminine’ boys seem to become homosexual more frequently than other boys (reviewed in [1]). The same seems to hold true of some very ‘masculine’ girls. It is also true that many children who become homosexual adults behave just like other members of their own gender. However, it is not our intention to perpetuate stereotypes, or to imply that all gay men are or were ‘feminine’. Rather, our purpose is to understand what impact childhood ‘masculinity’ and ‘femininity’ may have on the adult lives of men who are attracted to other men. In order to explore these observations further, this study will ask participating brothers about their recollections of their childhood behaviors such as play activities, relationships with others, and so on.

Stanton Jones and Alan Chambers were interviewed for this article. The AP writer implied that Stanton said the Exodus study has some relevance to genetics. I don’t believe Stan made such a link:

Skeptics include Stanton Jones, a psychology professor and provost at conservative Christian school Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois. An evangelical Christian, Jones last month announced results of a study he co-authored that says it is possible for gays to “convert” — changing their sexual orientation without harm.

Jones said his results suggest biology plays only a minor role in sexual orientation, and that researchers seeking genetic clues generally have a pro-gay agenda that will produce biased results.

Stanton dismissed such questions last month at the AACC meeting saying the Exodus study had nothing to do with genetics or causes.

UPDATE – 10/16/07 – As expected, I heard from Stan Jones today who said he was not characterized properly by the AP reporter Tanner. In fact, he told the reporter that using his study with Yarhouse to discuss cause was inappropriate. Stan does not think the genetic contribution is likely to be large and perhaps she wrongly combined the two points.