Social Question

WasCy's avatar

If you could ensure that your child could be born heterosexual, would you take that step?

Asked by WasCy (10068 points ) May 31st, 2011

Let’s say that the proof comes in someday that homosexuality is primarily or completely caused by genetics. Let’s say further that there could be a prenatal test and ‘correction’ of the genes so that heterosexuality would be assured. (I don’t want to get into the ‘test and abort’ scenario; there are already too many of those in the world, I think.)

Would you (assuming you’re part of a couple of childbearing age) take that step with your baby? Or if you’re more likely to be a grandparent, would you recommend that your children take that step with their baby?

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57 Answers

janbb's avatar

I’m not so sure any more what will make a person happiest so I wouldn’t presume to dictate sexual orientation for my children. In the past I might have said yes, but now I would rather work toward a world in which all gender identities are accepted.

tom_g's avatar

Are you kidding? No. No. And No.

I don’t see homosexuality as a problem.

Would you take steps to ensure that your child likes chocolate ice cream? or pretzels?

ucme's avatar

No definitely not! Leave those decisions to mother nature, she generally makes the right call bless her.

marinelife's avatar

No, I wouldn’t.

bkcunningham's avatar

Seriously, could I also ensure that they would live until they are old and have held grandbabies on their laps and loved until it hurt? Could I ensure they encounter at least one person they can count as a true friend in life. Could I ensure they would never know loss or pain? Could I ensure they know God and marvel at a sunset? That isn’t how life works my friend.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

Certainly not. As @tom_g said, I don’t see it as a problem.. why would I want to prevent it? Give me the option to make the world more accepting, less close-minded, less archaic, less ignorant. Give me the option of ensuring that my child is healthy and happy and lives a long and fulfilling life. Give me the option of promising that my child will be able to feel and express love, and I won’t give two shits who it is that they love, as long as they are willing and able to do so.

jrpowell's avatar

Honestly, I would.

I know a fair amount of gay people and all of them have at one time or another been abused for their orientation. It is fucked up they went through that and I wouldn’t want to put anyone through it if I could flip a switch and make it so they could avoid the abuse.

But I also don’t want kids because I can’t afford one.

tom_g's avatar

@johnpowell – This reminds me of what my grandmother used to tell me when she would outline her opposition to “inter-racial” marriage (“the poor kids”).

I have known a fair amount of tall, short, skinny, fat, red-headed, ugly, beautiful, slow, bad-teeth, stuttering, human people, and they have been abused because of it.

jrpowell's avatar

@tom_g :: I’m not sure that I see the connection. My point was that if I could flip a switch where no harm was done I would choose the path that led to least amount of abuse for the child.

At my sisters wedding my cousin held a gun to my head screaming “I should kill you, you fucking faggot” while I was changing. Sorry if I don’t want my kids to go through that.

tom_g's avatar

@johnpowell – I think I understand what you are saying. However, I think I am seeing it a bit differently. I would consider ensuring that my kid would not be the guy holding the gun to your cousin at the wedding screaming “I should kill you. you fucking faggot”.

That’s the problem. Not homosexuality.

wundayatta's avatar

This question could be opened up to a more general one. If you had the opportunity to insure that your child was normal instead of an outlier on some significant personality factor, would you do it? In other words, what is the value of normality? Is it more important to fit in, or is it more important to stand out?

Standing out can happen in a couple of forms. One, it can be a model for normality. Super-normality, let’s say. Movie stars and politicians and other admired public figures fit into this category. These are people who do something very well, but who would be perceived as fitting in just fine if they didn’t have that particular talent that makes them stand out.

Then there is negative standing out. These are folks who couldn’t be normal no matter what. Or, at least, that’s what society would like us to believe. Lock them up and throw away the key. Some of these people are hopeless. But others could be normal but for… whatever.

Is it worth “fixing” people who are too far from normal? Do we need to socialize them? Are there advantages to being different? Are there advantages to being unable or unwilling to fit in with normal people?

Personally, I think there are advantages. I think there are advantages to society because we never know when we might need certain talents that only some “abnormal” people have.

In any case, I think I would never mess with the random genes that create a new life. I don’t think we will ever be able to make targeted changes on significant personality attributes Our genetic code is way too complicated for that. So my answer to this question is an unequivocal “no.”

jlm11f's avatar

A) Let’s say that the proof comes in someday that homosexuality is primarily or completely caused by genetics. Yeah, I don’t think that will be happening.
B) Would you (assuming you’re part of a couple of childbearing age) take that step with your baby? No, I also wouldn’t want my kid genetically engineered to be amazing at everything s/he does. I don’t believe in cookie cutter kids. It might be harder for them growing up due to their different orientation, but it is a battle they must face. And if I raise them right, they will have enough self-confidence to be themselves while also be aware of the kind of people they need to ignore.

Hopefully by the time I choose to have kids, our world will be more gay-friendly as it is.

WasCy's avatar

Well, no, I wasn’t kidding.

I’m not surprised to see “a certain weight of opinion” on the side of “I wouldn’t do a thing” (after all, if many parents of deaf children wouldn’t even ‘take steps’ to enable their children to hear, then it’s not so surprising). Certainly the thing that ‘should’ happen is that society should be more tolerant of different-ness in all of its non-harmful forms, but I don’t think that will be happening, either.

I really expected more answers along the lines of @johnpowell,‘s though, frankly. Personally, I’d either do it or recommend it for the same reason that he suggests.

GAs all, though.

On an only marginally related note, though, how many of your sons are circumcised?

Blackberry's avatar

Nope, but I would want to ensure that they would be smarter lol.

mangeons's avatar

Why would you want to do that? Is that insinuating that being homosexual is a “bad” trait and should be purposefully engineered out? There’s no reason to, being homosexual is just as “normal” as being heterosexual, and a process like this would only egg on anti-gay movements in the world, because it’s acting as if being homosexual is an undesired trait. I wouldn’t want to control my child’s preferences, and bring them up saying things like “Good thing I ensured you wouldn’t be gay, what a disaster it would be if you hadn’t turned out straight!” The goal should be to make society more accepting of gay people, not less.

@johnpowell The problem there isn’t homosexuality, it’s that many people are narrow-minded and ignorant about issues like homosexuality, and that’s what should be changed. A choice like this would only encourage people to act like that.

tom_g's avatar

@wundayatta nailed it. You can’t – and shouldn’t want to normalize society.

@WasCy: “On a marginally related note, though, how many of your sons are circumcised?”

Yes, I think this has the potential for derailing this conversation. However, here goes: I have 2 sons and neither of them are circumcised. My daughter is not circumcised either.

WasCy's avatar

With all due respect, @mangeons, homosexuality isn’t “as normal as heterosexuality”. Not by a long shot. I’m not making pejorative assumptions about relative badness or goodness, but if (by some measures) homosexuals make up approximately 12% of the population, that makes it by definition “not normal”.

I do happen to think that homosexuality is “natural”, same as left-handedness. But left-handedness itself isn’t “normal”; it’s a non-harmful variation from normal. So is homosexuality, for that matter.

mangeons's avatar

While the majority of people are heterosexual instead of homosexual, that doesn’t mean that homosexuals are weird, or strange, etc. I suppose a better word to use could have been “natural,” but in general I was just stating that it’s not a bizarre or unnatural trait to have.

tom_g's avatar

@mangeons – WasCy is correct. I think the word “normal” has taken a strange turn lately to mean “ok”. Stating something is normal is a statement of fact. Stating that homosexuality is normal is an incorrect statement. Stating that homosexuality is something that is perfectly fine and should be accepted is an opinion. A really good opinion.

mangeons's avatar

@tom_g see my previous comment on how i could have used a better word :)

tom_g's avatar

@mangeons: ok. Sorry. The use of the word “normal” to mean “totally fine” is a pet peeve of mine, but I get what you are saying.

mangeons's avatar

@tom_g Perfectly fine. Like I said, I could have used a better word there, normal is just what came to mind!

Blondesjon's avatar

No. My children will be what they will be.

I would also hope that science tries to isolate and eliminate the genetic cause of MS, ALS, MD, and about one million other, real genetic problems before we look at the “who you’ll be predisposed to fucking” gene.

flutherother's avatar

No, que sera sera.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Some dumbass moms are already injecting themselves with unsafe, untested substance that ‘scientists’ are telling them will correctly gender (and clearly therefore will make them heterosexual) – part of my PhD research will be about these particular cases. Anyway, to answer your question, why in the world would I ever do that to my child? I’m a queer parent, to make them hetero would imply I find my sexuality problematic which I do not, not even a tiny bit.

cazzie's avatar

@WasCy Just because something isn’t of the majority does NOT make it abnormal. You are very wrong.

DominicX's avatar

I agree with @Simone_De_Beauvoir on this one. Expressing a desire to have heterosexual children implies that I find homosexuality problematic, which I do not. Of course, I can understand the other side of the argument. It isn’t about disliking homosexuals or homosexuality, it’s the fact that so many homosexuals encounter discrimination and hatred based on their orientation that you want to spare your children that. And there’s also the issue of a limited pool of possible partners for homosexuals in comparison with heterosexuals. Dating and finding relationships is often more difficult for homosexuals—no surprises there.

But for me, it’s important that the world be made a better place for homosexuals. My children may not be homosexual, but that does not mean that I’m going to forget about all the children who are. I will still fight against discrimination and try to make the world more accepting (and that’s right I said accepting, not “tolerant”).

Ajulutsikael's avatar

Absolutely NOT! I’d love my kids no matter what. Sexual orientation doesn’t matter to me and isn’t a good enough reason to mess with my child’s genetic make-up.

tinyfaery's avatar

Nope, but I’d like to be able to choose the sex of the child I will never have.

augustlan's avatar

[mod says] This is our Question of the Day!

lonelydragon's avatar

I don’t see children in my future, but if I did, the answer is no. Homosexuality is not a defect to be corrected. It’s just a different form of behavior, like being left-handed. Some point out that society isn’t very accepting and that it’s unlikely to change, but that’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. Of course nothing will change if people bow to societal pressure. What if the abolitionists had said, “The slaves will never be free, not in our lifetime”? Or if suffragists had said, “Women will never vote”?

SpatzieLover's avatar

No way no how.

cazzie's avatar

I wanted to add that my child is showing aptitude for an IQ over ‘average’. That’s not ‘normal’ either, and perhaps more rare than most things you’d find more ‘normal’. There are trade offs and challenges but I wouldn’t want a boring kid that just cruised along. I’m thrilled he asks me about prime numbers and fractions at 6 years old. Not normal? Sure. Not Average? I’m bloody thrilled and he can like boys or girls, as long as he does his homework and studies.

laureth's avatar

My husband and I are considering having a child. And in no way would I try to ensure anything about the kid, except hoping that she or he is healthy and viable. In other words, correcting surgical defects like a cleft palate, sure. Eating right and avoiding toxins while I’m pregnant? Absolutely. Making sure s/he’s straight? No.

And folks, I say this as the daughter of a lesbian. I was horribly ostracized as a kid because of my mom. I was spit on, had kids wait to beat me up after school, and was even a ward of the court for a while because my grandparents thought that my mother shouldn’t have a kid because of the whole lesbian thing. So I know what I’m talking about here. Instead of fiddling with my kid’s sexual orientation, I’d rather build a world where gay people don’t have to fear being bashed. That seems like a way more sane solution.

WasCy's avatar

Well, I’m not going to get back into the “not normal” =/= “abnormal” discussion again. We handled that higher in the thread for anyone who’s interested.

Homosexuality is not “normal”, but that doesn’t make it “abnormal”. “Above average” intelligence may still be in a “normal” range of intelligence, but super-intelligence is also not “normal” ... not that it’s a bad thing, either. And that’s all I have to say about that.

@laureth I understand and appreciate what you’re saying here, but as @johnpowell also said earlier (with equal validity and apparently similar history), if I can paraphrase him, “Acceptance is a goal… but we’re not there yet.”

I was perfectly willing and unconditionally accepting of my own children when I had my own (unvoiced) concerns about their own sexuality. It wouldn’t have made any difference to me, but I saw what the ambiguity and “perceived difference” with their peers was costing them, too. I don’t want, and wouldn’t want to make my kids pawns in a global political game, either. The hell with that.

@Simone_De_Beauvoir had excellent points about safety, which should obviously be a prime concern. I should have stated in the original hypothetical question that the “treatment” would be no more dangerous than, say, the immunizations that we give our kids. That is, perhaps not “perfectly safe” (what is, after all?), but “safe beyond freak accidents”. And freak accidents can happen to anyone for nearly any reason. (Hence the term.)

Maybe I don’t understand @tinyfaery‘s distinction (although I understand the words well enough), between choosing a child’s gender, if that’s possible, and choosing a “normal” sexual preference. (That freighted word again.)

Maybe tomorrow I’ll ask “What if surveys showed that most homosexuals would have wished that for themselves, if their parents could have assured that they’d be born heterosexual?” but not now.

Thanks for all the responses and discussion so far.

cockswain's avatar

Not that trait, but I would like to be able to select for other traits, such as intelligence, health, or athleticism.

DominicX's avatar

@WasCy Actually, technically it does make it “abnormal”. All “abnormal” means is not usual, normal or typical. It says nothing about being “bad”. However, dictionary definitions aside, in our society, saying something is “not normal” does imply that the thing is “bad” or negative much of the time. The dictionary might not say that, but that is how many people in our society use the terms “normal” and “abnormal”. “Abnormal” has connotations of weird, freak, wrong, bad, etc. even though none of that is in the definition. So when most people here say it’s normal, they’re not saying that it’s common, they’re saying that it’s not negative.

Secondly, “acceptance is a goal…but we’re not there yet”. Exactly. Selecting our children to be heterosexual does nothing for acceptance, it only strengthens the idea that homosexuality is negative. If people are going to such lengths to avoid homosexuality, then it must be bad, right? It must be undesirable. It might even be wrong

MissAnthrope's avatar

I agree that I, too, do not see anything inherently bad in being homosexual. As a mother, though, I might be inclined to shield my child from hurts from the world… however, you can only protect your kids so much and, quite honestly, I think it’s generally much better to simply let them experience the world (with a safety net). I don’t think I would interfere in this case or even want to be informed about it. It’s true that I would like to select for sex, but that’s about as far as I go—I mean, I sincerely would want to discover my child bit by bit, as it’s pleasurable and loving to learn someone’s intricacies. If they happen to be not heterosexual, then I at least can offer an incredibly supportive, nurturing, and understanding environment in which to accept oneself and aid in the coming out process.

Plucky's avatar

Never.

laureth's avatar

@WasCy re “Acceptance is a goal… but we’re not there yet.”

I agree, we are not there yet. Similarly, I don’t think we’ll be done with racism until everyone is a medium shade of beige, but that doesn’t mean I’d darken my kid’s skin color. I think that we’re closer to the goal every time someone realizes that the word “gay” means “my friend Laureth on Fluther” or “Joe, the cashier at the store” or “Maggie and Rose and their kids across the street,” rather than “those horrible people.” If people took the opportunity to make their kids straight, that would make the remaining gay folks rare oddities, the weird Other that it’s OK to hate. It wouldn’t help the cause.

casheroo's avatar

Uh, no. I would think it was ridiculous to even mess with something like that. The only time I would want to fix my child in the womb is if they had a disease or syndrome of sorts, if I could make them completely healthy, I might do it.
I think homosexuality is normal, and needs to be accepted by all.

aprilsimnel's avatar

No. I can’t add to the other answers, because they are the reasons that I share as well.

mooks6780's avatar

Let nature take its coarse, it is natural after all. Im all for homosexuality, and I am a straight married woman. I have 4 children and if 1 if my children was gay I would not wish any other way, and thats that.

Prosb's avatar

No. I would refuse to do something to my child on such a level, that they can’t have back. Even if it only reduced chances, it’s a ridiculous thing. I don’t care how bad you want grandchildren.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

I would but not because I feel homosexuality is unnatural. I would in order to save my child any social hardship, the world is tough enough. Of the homosexual friends and acquaintances I’ve know and know now, all of them have had a harder adjustment in the world than I, heartbreaking and horrible stuff that has no reason or immediate solution. Selfishly I’d shield my child from that if I could.

SpatzieLover's avatar

So @Neizvestnaya do you feel the same way about Autism/Asperger’s then, too…Due to a lack of social skills/abilities & the world being “tough enough”?

john65pennington's avatar

I totally agree with Lonelydragon.

Nullo's avatar

Interesting. I am tempted to say yes.

tom_g's avatar

@Nullo: “Interesting. I am tempted to say yes.”

Odd that you didn’t provide any detail here. Still thinking it over?

flutherother's avatar

I take the old fashioned view that there are things we should not tamper with and I would say no.

Nullo's avatar

@tom_g See, I am opposed on principle to human genetic manipulation, even prenatally. But it would solve some problems. I am also opposed on principle to homosexuality. And I figure that there’s no sense in compromising on your values – that defeats the purpose of having them in the first place. We have here a hypothetical situation that puts two otherwise unrelated, non-conflicting principles in opposition with each other.

tom_g's avatar

@Nullo: _“I am also opposed on principle to homosexuality.”

Huh? Are you also opposed on principle to red hair?

@Nullo: “And I figure that there’s no sense in compromising on your values – that defeats the purpose of having them in the first place.”

What is the purpose of having kids?

Nullo's avatar

@tom_g Nope. I see homosexuality as another example of sin skewing things, creating a behavior that we ought not to be encouraging. In short, it’s just another sin. No, sin isn’t fair; rather, it is the epitome of injustice.
Your non-sequitur perplexes me. Since you ask, the purpose of having kids is to propagate the species; I suspect that you know this, though. I was saying that there’s no point in having values if you’re going to drop or change them when it’s convenient.
Now, quit trying to troll.

tom_g's avatar

@Nullo – First, an apology. I misread your statement (“that defeats the purpose of having them…”) as saying that it defeats the purpose of kids. My bad. That was a non-sequitur.

As for the “troll” comment – huh? Was this based on the misunderstanding? I’m confused. If it was based on any of my other comments, please explain.

As for “sin”. Ohhh. I see. Well, that is probably the conversation stopper right there.

MRSHINYSHOES's avatar

Great question. I would say yes. It’s only because I don’t want my children growing up in a society that still harbors a lot of hate and fear of homosexuals, and because of that, I don’t want them to feel like “outcasts” and have to live through a life with fear and unfairness.

Although it may seem that by making such a decision, I am “copping out” and furthering prejudice, I am not. I am only being practical and in want of protecting my child. At the same time, I would champion the cause for gay rights, so that future generations would not have to face such a decision as I had to and can have gay children if they want to.

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