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Gay, straight, and the reason why : the science of sexual orientation  Cover Image Book Book

Gay, straight, and the reason why : the science of sexual orientation / Simon LeVay.

LeVay, Simon. (Author).


What causes a child to grow up gay or straight? In this book, the author, a neuroscientist summarizes a wealth of scientific evidence that points to one inescapable conclusion: Sexual orientation results primarily from an interaction between genes, sex hormones, and the cells of the developing body and brain. He helped create this field in 1991 with a much-publicized study in Science magazine, where he reported on a difference in the brain structure between gay and straight men. Since then, an entire scientific discipline has sprung up around the quest for a biological explanation of sexual orientation. In this book, he provides a clear explanation of where the science stands today, taking the reader on a whirlwind tour of laboratories that specialize in genetics, endocrinology, neuroscience, cognitive psychology, evolutionary psychology, and family demographics. He describes, for instance, how researchers have manipulated the sex hormone levels of animals during development, causing them to mate preferentially with animals of their own gender. He also reports on the prevalence of homosexual behavior among wild animals, ranging from Graylag geese to the Bonobo chimpanzee. Although many details remain unresolved, the general conclusion is quite clear: A person's sexual orientation arises in large part from biological processes that are already underway before birth. He also makes it clear that these lines of research have a lot of potential because, far from seeking to discover "what went wrong" in the lives of gay people, attempting to develop "cures" for homosexuality, or returning to traditional explanations that center on parent-child relationships, various forms of "training," or early sexual experiences, our modern scientists are increasingly seeing sexual variety as something to be valued, celebrated, and welcomed into society.

Record details

  • ISBN: 9780199931583 (pbk.)
  • ISBN: 0199931585 (pbk.)
  • Physical Description: xvii, 412 p. : ill. ; 21 cm.
  • Publisher: New York ; Oxford University Press, 2012.

Content descriptions

General Note:
Originally published: 2011.
Bibliography, etc. Note:
Includes bibliographical references (p. 331-392) and indexes.
Formatted Contents Note:
What is sexual orientation? -- Why we need biology -- The outline of a theory -- Childhood -- Characteristics of gay and straight adults -- The role of sex hormones -- The role of genes -- The brain -- The body -- The older-brother effect.
Subject: Sexual orientation.
Sex (Psychology)
Sex (Biology)

Available copies

  • 1 of 1 copy available at Kirtland Community College.


  • 0 current holds with 1 total copy.
Show Only Available Copies
Location Call Number / Copy Notes Barcode Shelving Location Status Due Date
Kirtland Community College Library BF 692 .L483 2012 30775305490147 General Collection Available -

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