Gallup Poll: Fewer Americans in '14 Believe One Is Born Gay

Wednesday, 28 May 2014 06:43 PM

By Cathy Burke

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Americans are split on whether sexual orientation is fixed at birth, but fewer believe someone is born gay than did in a 2013 survey, data released Wednesday shows.

Gallup’s annual "values and beliefs" survey shows 37 percent of respondents think factors like upbringing and environment influence whether people are gay, while 42 percent say people are born gay.

In the 2013 survey, 47 percent of respondents believed sexual orientation was fixed at birth.

The margin of error was plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Gallup noted when it first asked the question in a 1977 survey, 56 percent attributed homosexuality to upbringing and environment, while 13 percent believed it something a person was born with. By 2001, 40 percent believed a person was born gay.

"Since then, Americans have been roughly equally divided over this question," the poll analysis notes, adding the pattern "appeared to be changing last year, when the belief that people are born gay rose to an all-time high of 47 percent. … [T]his year's slight downtick in the ‘born with’ belief, halted the trend."

The scientific community is no less divided. Gallup notes the American Psychological Association finds "there is no consensus among scientists about the exact reasons that an individual develops a heterosexual, bisexual, gay, or lesbian orientation."

Its English counterpart, the Royal College of Psychiatrists, has said sexual orientation is a combination of biological and environmental factors.

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