What Is The Science?

We recommend the American Psychological Association (APA) as your best source for scientific information. The following definition and answers to questions can be found on the “APA Information Page” link below. If you would like more than a definition, you can find good scientific answers to any of these questions and others by following the APA links.

Sexual Orientation and Homosexuality

This information is designed to provide accurate information for those who want to better understand sexual orientation and the impact of prejudice and discrimination on those who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual.

What is Sexual Orientation?

Sexual orientation refers to an enduring pattern of emotional, romantic and/or sexual attractions to men, women or both sexes. Sexual orientation also refers to a person’s sense of identity based on those attractions, related behaviors, and membership in a community of others who share those attractions. Research over several decades has demonstrated that sexual orientation ranges along a continuum, from exclusive attraction to the other sex to exclusive attraction to the same sex. However, sexual orientation is usually discussed in terms of three categories: heterosexual (having emotional, romantic or sexual attractions to members of the other sex), gay/lesbian (having emotional, romantic or sexual attractions to members of one’s own sex), and bisexual (having emotional, romantic or sexual attractions to both men and women). This range of behaviors and attractions has been described in various cultures and nations throughout the world. Many cultures use identity labels to describe people who express these attractions. In the United States, the most frequent labels are lesbians (women attracted to women), gay men (men attracted to men) and bisexual people (men or women attracted to both sexes). However, some people may use different labels or none at all.

Sexual orientation is distinct from other components of sex and gender, including biological sex (the anatomical, physiological and genetic characteristics associated with being male or female), gender identity (the psychological sense of being male or female),* and social gender role (the cultural norms that define feminine and masculine behavior).

Other Questions Answered on the APA Information Page

As can be seen in the links above, all the professional organizations are agreed on how affected individuals, parents, family and friends should view homosexuality. You will find in these APA links endorsements from 12 other major USA organizations in addition to APA.

Important Scientific Questions for Mormons

Questions in regard to change, celibacy, and the feasibility for a gay person to successfully marry heterosexually or to be in a committed same-sex relationship are shown below. These are the most difficult questions for you and your teen or young adult to answer. It is important to see what the research within Mormonism shows us about these specific questions:

Will sexual orientation change efforts be successful?
Is lifetime celibacy a realistic goal?
Is heterosexual marriage feasible for someone who is predominantly homosexual?
What about committed same-sex relationships?

More Scientific Resources