New study casts doubt on older brother hypothesis and reparative drive theory

A new study by Andrew Francis of Emory University in the Journal of Sex Research casts doubt on both the fraternal birth-order effect and reparative drive theory.
Here is the abstract:

Using a nationally representative sample of young adults, I identify the family-demographic correlates of sexual orientation in men and women. Hence, I test the maternal immune hypothesis, which posits that the only biodemographic correlate of male homosexuality is the number of older brothers, and there are no biodemographic correlates of female homosexuality. For men, I find that having one older brother does not raise the likelihood of homosexuality. Although having multiple older brothers has a positive coefficient, it is not significant. Moreover, having any older sisters lowers the likelihood of homosexual or bisexual identity. For women, I find that having an older brother or having any sisters decreases the likelihood of homosexuality. Family structure, ethnicity, and education are also significantly correlated with male and female sexual orientation. Therefore, the maternal immune hypothesis cannot explain the entire pattern of family-demographic correlates. The findings are consistent with either biological or social theories of sexual orientation.

The sample is large and the measures of sexual orientation, while brief, cover behavior and attractions. Here is more on the sampling:

I use the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health), a nationally representative study of adolescent health in the United States (Udry, 2003). Adolescents in grades 7 through 12 were initially interviewed in 1995 and 1996 (Waves I and II) and were reinterviewed in 2001 (Wave III). The sample size of male respondents is about 5,000, and the sample size of female respondents is about 5,600. Table 1 displays summary statistics. At Wave III, all respondents in the sample were 18 years old or older. About 88% were between the ages of 20 and 24.

Sexual orientation was assessed with this item:

‘‘Choose the description that best fits how you think about yourself: 100% heterosexual; mostly heterosexual, but somewhat attracted to people of your own sex; bisexual, that is, attracted to men and women equally; mostly homosexual, but somewhat attracted to people of the opposite sex; or 100% homosexual.’’

As noted, the theory that the likelihood of any homosexuality is enhanced via more older brothers is not supported by this large, representative sample. In addition to a look at older brothers, Francis also examined other family demographics. Although unrelated to homosexual behavior or attraction, having older sisters was associated with a slightly reduced identification as less than 100% heterosexual. This finding contrasted with the 2002 Bearman and Bruckner study which found an elevation in homosexual romantic attraction for fraternal twin males with a female twin.
For females, Francis found that having siblings decreased slightly the likelihood of most same-sex outcomes. None of the correlates predict sexual orientation well. In every case, the size of the differences were trivial. With large samples, one does not need a large difference between groups to attain statistical significance.
Francis also examined family structure and found more trivial associations. For instance, he found a 3.8% increase in the likelihood of ever having a same-sex sexual partner among those who did not live with either parent. In contrast to reparative theory expectations, he reported that identifying as less than 100% heterosexual for males was associated with living with only dad. No romantic attraction or same-sex behavior was reported for males living with only mother.
There were other factors which Francis reported but the real take home point from this study is how little any of these variables predict sexual orientation. This study undermines reparative drive theory due to the unremarkable performance of the parental variables to predict orientation. One would expect to find great differences between male heterosexual participants and same-sex attracted participants if fathering/mothering were crucial to male sexual orientation as Joe Nicolosi teaches. In fact in this YouTube video, Nicolosi says that the main factor in the development of male homosexuality is a distant or hostile father.
The Francis article finds very little predictive power in family dynamics of any kind. There is no predictive power at all for those whose parents are separated. Living with dad should insulate against a homosexual outcome and living with mom alone should enhance the likelihood of same-sex attraction and/or behavior. In this sample, it does not.

Ex-gay history: Charles Socarides and Richard Cohen on CNN

Richard Cohen has added some content to his YouTube account with a new infomercial and a clip of an interview on CNN with Charles Socarides and Cohen from what appears to be the early to mid 90s (probably 1994 given this article). Socarides mentions NARTH so it would be after the founding of that organization in 1992. The sound does not match the speakers but this is an interesting clip nonetheless which demonstrates that NARTH’s premise in the early days was to return homosexuality to a status of mental disorder.

Ted Haggard preaches personal sermon

This morning, ABC News is reporting that Ted Haggard preached a very personal sermon this past weekend about his fall from and back into grace.
Haggard spoke in the morning and evening at Open Bible Fellowship, an independent, charismatic church in Morrison, IL. I have yet to listen to the sermons but the ABC News account implies he attributes his homosexual inclinations to sexual molestation at age 7.

Haggard told the congregation that a sexual incident with a man when he was 7 years old may be related to the scandal involving a male prostitute and crystal meth use that cost him his job two years ago.
“My dad was pretty successful,” Haggard said. “He had a lot of workers. One of those workers had a sexual experience with me. I was 7 years old.”
Haggard said that incident stayed with him throughout his life.
There I was, 50 years old, a conservative Republican, loving the word of God, an evangelical, born-again, spirit-filled, charismatic, all those things,” he said. “But some of the things that were buried in the depths of the sea from when I was in the second grade started to rage in my heart and mind.”
“I’m very, very sorry that I sinned,” he said. “My wife — all my sin and shame fell on her. People treated her as if she had fallen. And my children — they all went through carrying my shame.”

Lisa Diamond: NARTH distorts my research

Today’s Salt Lake City Tribune published an article which brings the private feud between University of Utah professor Lisa Diamond and the National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) into public view. Diamond went on camera for Wayne Besen in October to complain about NARTH’s use of her research but this article brings the dispute out of the advocacy realm and into the Salt Lake City community. An added significance of the SLC Tribune raising this issue is the presence of NARTH’s Dean Byrd and Dave Pruden in Salt Lake City.
The article begins:

A national group that advocates “treatment” of homosexuality is being criticized for allegedly distorting a Utah researcher’s work to advance the theory that people choose their sexual orientation – a controversial notion rejected by mainstream psychology.

To be sure, at least one NARTH document I have reviewed does use Diamond’s research to mislead readers, but I do not think NARTH as an organization promotes the idea that sexual orientation is a conscious choice. Rather, the reparative notion is that same-sex attraction derives from faulty parenting and not conscious choice.
I suspect the position paper on female homosexuality I critiqued is at issue when reporter Brian Maffly writes:

Lisa Diamond, a University of Utah psychologist whose sexual identity studies suggest a degree of “fluidity” in the sexual preferences of women, said in an interview Tuesday that the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality, or NARTH, misrepresents her findings. Position papers, some penned by NARTH president A. Dean Byrd, an adjunct professor in the U.’s Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, point to Diamond’s research as evidence that gays’ sexual orientation can be straightened out through treatment – much to Diamond’s dismay.

The NARTH position paper on female homosexuality says this about Diamond’s work in a section on the “Fluidity of Homosexuality Attraction.”

These findings support the research of Dr. Lisa Diamond who concluded, “Sexual identity was far from fixed in women who aren’t exclusively heterosexual.” After following 80 non-heterosexual young women (lesbian, bisexual and unlabeled) over a two-year period, Dr. Diamond found that half of the women “reported multiple changes in sexual identity, and nearly one fourth of lesbians pursued sexual contact with men.”

The NARTH author confuses matters by first saying,

As mentioned, many researchers attest to the reality of female sexual fluidity. This does not directly translate into proof that any woman can easily change or alter her same sex attraction.

However, following the Diamond reference is a statement that twists the concept of spontaneous sexual fluidity for some women in a way that has Diamond upset.

The degree to which a woman can or will experience change will be uniquely determined based on her history and motivation to do so.

This is a non-sequitur. While fluidity has been described over time by research participants, the cause for the fluidity is an open question. The research identified by the NARTH “fact sheet” does not allow this conclusion. We have no idea for any given woman why change occurs. Diamond correctly criticizes NARTH for misusing her work in this way. Maffly continues,

Diamond, who has never met [NARTH president Dean] Byrd, said in an interview that NARTH “cherry picks” findings or references from her work that appear to support their position.

NARTH’s responds as has become typical. They claim they are just interpreting the data differently.

[NARTH founder and past-president, Joe] Nicolosi did not respond to an interview request and Byrd claimed he did not know why Diamond, a fellow U. faculty member, took umbrage with NARTH’s citation of her work.
“NARTH’s view is that people can adapt any way they want and there is freedom of choice,” Byrd says. “If it says ‘fluidity’ it says ‘fluidity.’ How you interpret it is something else.”

The reporter Maffly can be forgiven for his opening lines about NARTH promoting choice given Byrd’s way of discussing the matter. I suspect Byrd means choice of behaviors. Whatever he means by freedom to choose, he is wrong to say there is no guidance from Diamond’s research about how to interpret ‘fluidity.’ A review of her most recent book, Sexual Fluidity, makes clear that some of the women retained their same-sex attraction while discovering opposite-sex attraction. Some women actively fought the change of attraction but resigned themselves to heterosexuality. Her work does not support the statement about change being associated with history or motivation.
UPDATE – 8/31/09: The Salt Lake City Tribune article has been archived and is not available at that link now. Here is a newswire article on the same topic. A UPI story is for some reason archived on this Moldova gateway.
Also, here is an example where NARTH members misused Michael Bailey’s research.

NARTH conference opens today in Denver, CO

Amidst the inevitable protests, the annual conference of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality opens today in Denver, CO with the theme, “Sound Scientific Research: In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” For NARTH, this would be a worthy objective.
Given the theme, one would expect a program with research presentations which support their reparative theory positions. Not so. A review of the program reveals no such sessions. NARTH’s approach to research is on display with their new “fact sheet’ on female homosexuality. My review of it is here and here.
Those looking for actual research regarding homosexuality would do well to consult primary sources among researchers. Those looking for an evangelical approach to matters of sexual identity would do better to avoid the NARTH conference and seek assistance from the Institute for the Study of Sexual Identity.

International Healing Foundation looking for new leader

In his Fall, 2008 newsletter, Richard Cohen says that he is looking for a new Director of the International Healing Foundation. On page 3, Cohen announces:

PASSING THE TORCH OF TRUTH AND LOVE
Now that these three landmark healing protocols are completed, it’s time to raise up the next generation of healers. Therefore, I would like to announce that we are seeking a new director for the International Healing Foundation (IHF). We are looking for a committed person with a background in counseling who has a passion to help those with unwanted SSA and their loved ones, as well as a desire to spread this message of hope and healing throughout the world. If you are interested or know of anyone you who might be a good fit, please contact our office and apply for this position.
It will take time to train the new director, who would set up residence in the Washington, D.C., metro area in order to develop a fulltime clientele. This person would be supervised and trained to take over the post of director. In this way, we wish to build a strong future for the next generation, bringing great love, light, and truth into the world. Our motto is: Changing the world one life at a time. And as you see, our newsletter, after 21 years of publication, has a new name: Change Is Possible!

I emailed Richard to ask him what he planned to do once a new director is hired and trained but I have not heard back from him. He seems to feel completed now that he has authored three new training resources which he says provide “the answers.”

WE HAVE THE ANSWERS
I am proud to announce that I have completed 21 years in public service and ministry. God called me in June 1987 to reach out and help those with unwanted SSA and their loved ones, and to spread the truth throughout the world that no one is born this way, no one chooses to have SSA, and that change is possible. I have been faithful and even more so, successful in helping thousands change their orientation and parents reconcile with their SSA loved ones. Furthermore, I have trained and educated thousands of professionals, equipping them with a systematic approach to helping SSA strugglers and their families.
The International Healing Foundation (IHF) is the first organization in the world to create three landmark proven successful protocols:
Coming Out Straight–book and CD/MP3 series
Gay Children, Straight Parents–book and CD/MP3 series
Counselor Training Program–manual and CD/MP3 series
These are our three Olympic Gold Medals to help heal the world! I spent a lifetime preparing and training for this moment. I fought my way out of homosexuality. Against all odds I came out straight! That was indeed a miracle of God. And then, after obtaining my masters degree in counseling psychology, I set up the International Healing Foundation and counseled hundreds of men and women, helping them achieve their heterosexual goals. The fruit of these experiences is a four-stage protocol leading individuals from a homosexual to heterosexual orientation detailed in Coming Out Straight.
Simultaneously, I assisted hundreds of parents to set love in order, helping their children come out of SSA. Again, more miracles occurred. As a result of helping these family members and friends, came a twelve-step protocol, a strategic plan to bring radical healing in all family relationships, described in Gay Children, Straight Parents. And finally, as a result of training hundreds of therapists, coaches, clergy and ministry leaders, teaching them how to assist both the strugglers and their family members, came our Counselor Training Program.
Each of these three proven successful protocols has been recorded on CD/MP3 in a professional studio. The ComingOut Straight teaching series describes how to heal from unwanted SSA; the Gay Children, Straight Parents teaching series describes how to assist SSA loved ones in reclaiming their true gender identity and fulfill their heterosexual potential; and the Counselor Training Program teaching series describes how to coach/counsel/mentor the strugglers and their loved ones. Please see the three ads in the pages that follow for a detailed description of each CD/MP3 series. These breakthrough protocols will help promote healing in the world. Now is the time for change!

So now that Richard has the answers needed to heal the world, he apparently feels it is time to move on to something else, although he is vague about what.
It has always puzzled me that Richard claims that God called him in 1987 to start IHF. In 1987, he was involved in the Unification church which has a very different view of God than orthodox Christianity. See the IHF page for more information on this aspect of the history of IHF.

NARTH fact sheet: Female homosexual development, Part 2 – Child sexual abuse

In the first part of my review of the NARTH fact sheet on female homosexuality, I critiqued the empirical foundation of the NARTH theories about causation of female same-sex attraction.
In this post, I examine the statements regarding sexual abuse and causation. It may be surprising to some observers to read this:

Although sexual abuse does not directly cause same sex attraction, studies report male sexual abuse of lesbians as generally being twice as high as of heterosexual women, that is, on average, 50 percent of lesbian women report a history of sexual abuse. (26, 27) If family relational dynamics and gender nonconformity are already in place, sexual abuse can clench the direction of detachment, gender insecurity, and disidentification possibly leading to same sex attraction.

The article does not specify sexual abuse as a direct cause of same-sex attraction. However, the author does believe that being abused as a child can push a girl in that direction if she suffered detachment from her mom and was gender nonconforming as a child.
I checked the references offered by NARTH for the assertion that sexual abuse of lesbians by men are “twice as high as of heterosexual women” and that “50 percent of lesbian women report a history of sexual abuse.” I cannot find these statistics.
Reference 26 is to a survey of lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals and their siblings by Balsam, Rothblum, and Beauchaine in 2005 (see reference list at the end of the post). In this study, the authors used a convenience sample of same-sex attracted people and asked them to recruit a sibling to participate. They reported childhood sexual abuse (CSA) prevalences for straight (30.4%), lesbian (43.6%) and bisexual (47.6%) female participants. The effect size of these differences are very low, between 1-2%.
Reference 27 is to research reported in the Journal of Gay and Lesbian Social Services by Hughes and team in 2000. In this study, forty-one percent of lesbians reported CSA while among straight women the number was 24%.
The NARTH article adds:

Sexual abuse can be emotional, verbal, or physical. A girl who is sexually objectified though inappropriate sexual comments, denied age appropriate privacy or whose father has voyeuristic tendencies, has been sexually violated without ever being touched. (28, 29)

I do not contest that the paternal behaviors referenced here are inappropriate and potentially harmful. However, the references for these statements does not provide research support for the statements about CSA. One, (29) is not to a research study but to a book for a lay audience by Janette Howard and the other (28) is a 1991 research study by Peters and Cantrell which failed to discriminate lesbians and straight women via abuse variables.
There are some discouraging percentages in this literature but they apply to women overall, with a moderate elevation for lesbians. Here is what I found in a brief PsychLit search.
Table CSA
A look at the table demonstrates that most research finds a modest elevation for lesbians but does not demonstrate the 50% figure nor support for the conclusion that prevalences are twice as high for lesbians as straight women. Prevalences are sadly and unacceptably high for all women.
I fear that this fact sheet will become basis for inaccurate information spread by sexual identity and ex-gay ministries. Whatever the reason for the differences, it cannot be helpful to paint a false picture. Sexual abuse is a trauma that often requires therapeutic and spiritual intervention but whether it is involved in the origins of same-sex attractions continues to be an open question.
References:
Balsam, K.F.; Rothblum, E.D., & Beauchaine, T.P. (2005). Victimization over the life span: A comparison of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and heterosexual siblings. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. 73, 477-487.
Bradford, J., Ryan, C., & Rothblum, E.D. (1994). National lesbian health care survey: Implications for mental health care. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 62, 228-242.
Briere, J., & Elliott, D. M. (2003). Prevalence and psychological sequelae of self-reported childhood physical and sexual abuse in a general population sample of men and women. Child Abuse & Neglect. 27, 1205-1222.
Finkelhor, D., Hotaling, G., Lewis, I.A., & Smith, C. (1990). Sexual abuse in a national survey of adult men and women: Prevalence, characteristics, and risk factors. Child Abuse & Neglect. 14, 19-28.
Hughes, T.L., Haas, A.P., Razzano, L., Cassidy, R., & Matthews. A. (2000). Comparing lesbians and heterosexual women’s mental health: Results from a multi-site women’s health survey. Journal of Gay and Lesbian Social Services, 11 (1), 57-76
Peters, D. & Cantrell, P. (1991). Factors distinguishing samples of lesbian and heterosexual women. Journal of Homosexuality, 21, 1-15.
Vogeltanz, N.D., Wilsnack, S.C., Harris, T. R., Wilsnack, R.W., Wonderlich, S.A., & Kristjanson, A.F. (1999). Prevalence and risk factors for childhood sexual abuse in women: National survey findings. Child Abuse & Neglect. 23, 579-592.

Interviews with Joseph Nicolosi

Here is a three part interview with Joseph Nicolosi, who discusses his views of homosexuality and his approach to therapy.
Part One
Part Two
Part Three
I don’t agree with the basic theory but I wanted to provide the links for those of us who study the various approaches. When I study an approach, I like to have the current information, and these appear to be very recent.
Let’s have an open forum on this…