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Wednesday 28 June 2017

Trauma link to sexuality "inappropriate"

Posted in: New Zealand Daily News
By Daily News staff - 24th July 2010

Dr Mark Henrickson
The lead researcher in a comprehensive gay, lesbian and bisexual study says it would be inappropriate to link childhood trauma with a tendency to same-sex sexual identity based on a just-published study.

Dr Mark Henrickson is a senior lecturer in social work at Massey's School of Social and Cultural Studies in Albany. He is the author of Lavender Islands: Portrait of the Whole Family, the first national study of gay, lesbian and bisexual New Zealanders from a 'strengths perspective'.

He says the Otago University study of 13,000 people aged over 16 begins with the assumption that heterosexuality is both statistically normative and normal, and then seeks to explain non-heterosexuality.

Part of a Mental Health New Zealand survey, the study says; "the more adverse events experienced in childhood, the more likely someone was to belong to one of the non-exclusively heterosexual groups".

Dr Henrickson says a "heteronormative bias" has shaped the study's discussion and conclusions.

"This can lead to the unfortunate and erroneous conclusion that sexual minorities are 'that way' because they are broken. The research and social discourse has moved beyond this over the last 10 years."

The researcher adds that the study lacks analysis by gender, which he says is very important, because the current literature proposes that men and women arrive at their sexual identities through quite different pathways, and that women have much more fluid and flexible identities throughout their lives, while men's identities are fixed earlier on and do not change much during the life course.

"The Otago study shows no evidence of consultation with any sexual minorities in the interpretation of the findings, which would be expected in a New Zealand context, even for a biostatistical study, because of the broad implications for these groups."

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