What is sexual orientation?
Sexual orientation is one component of sexuality and is distinguished by an enduring emotional, romantic, sexual or affection attraction to individuals of a particular gender.
Three sexual orientations are commonly recognized: homosexual, attraction to individuals of one’s own gender; heterosexual, attraction to individuals of the other gender; or bisexual, attractions to members of either gender.
Is sexual orientation a choice?
No. Sexual orientation emerges for most people in early adolescence without any prior sexual experience. And some people report trying very hard over many years to change their sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual with no success. For these reasons, psychologists do not consider sexual orientation for most people to be a conscious choice that can be voluntarily changed.
Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people are everywhere – they come from families from all corners of the earth, from every culture, religious, ethnic group and in every occupation. It is estimated that about 10% of the population is homosexual; thus, about one in four families includes a gay person. Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people are healthy – both the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association have recognized that homosexuality is not a mental or emotional disorder.
Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people cannot be stereotyped any more than non-gay people. They establish stable, loving, long lasting relationships, work for a living, shop, watch TV, vote, and pay taxes. Aside from the prejudice and bigotry they sometimes encounter, most live happy and fulfilling lives.
Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people are naturally so. Sexuality is not chosen, like selecting clothes or a line of work. No one knows exactly how sexual orientation is determined. In discussions with thousands of families with gay children, The American Psychological Association, have found that the gay child is most often aware of his/her sexual orientation at a very early age. None of the children was influenced or taught to be gay by another person. Being gay is not just a stage youngsters go through. All attempts to change a child’s sexual orientation fail.