Navaratilova’s Fight Sparks Debate

We’ve already received a number of emails and comments on our post on Martina Navartilova‘s work with PETA to protest Oregon State University and Oregon Health & Science University’s investigation into so-called “gay” or “male-oriented” sheep.

Some readers contend that PETA’s twisting the facts to suit their mission, insisting that the program’s aimed more at helping sheep breeders ween out the “homo” rams for breeding purposes. A reader named Seamus cites an Associated Press article:

The study began in 1995, when researchers at the federal Sheep Experiment Station in Dubois, Idaho, noticed that some rams refused to mate with female sheep. Of these animals, some showed no interest in males or females, and a few preferred other rams.

A refusal to breed can spell disaster in the sheep production industry.

Stormshak said a key goal is to find a biological test to determine ovine sexual orientation, so breeders can make informed purchases of stud rams.

Another reader led us to this blog posting from September on the subject. If you head on over, you’ll find researcher Dr. Charles Roselli’s explanation that the program’s not nefarious at all. Rather, it’s hoping to shed light on more complex physio-sexual mysteries:

Moreover, sexual behavior and sexual partner preference play a fundamental role in reproduction and psychosexual development. There are serious medical conditions that are the result of variations in sexual development, such as congenital adrenal hyperplasia and androgen insensitivity syndrome. These conditions may lead to problems of sexual function, social and psychosexual adjustment, mental health, quality of life and social participation. Understanding variations in psychosexual development that may affect these individuals requires reference to studies in non-human species that show marked but complex effects of androgens on sex differentiation of the brain and on behavior. A greater understanding of the biological underpinnings of partner preference may greatly assist in providing affected individuals with the medical services and support that they may desire.

Hmmm, intriguing. We’re all about medical advancements, but we still must admit that we’re skeptical about the entire thing.

Sure, reader contentions that PETA’s exaggerating the issue may hold some water, it still seems that no matter how much good comes from Roselli’s research, some more sinister folk may use the information for evil.

It’s really up to you, reader, to draw your own conclusions…

(Shout-out to PageOneQ for this swell picture of a “gay” sheep.)

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  • RJ

    You know what you do if the ram won’t breed with the sheep? You buy another ram or you use AI, which is very, very common practice in raising animals.

    As for the doctor’s explanation, yes, it could be helpful to understand what causes people to be intersexed, but there is a difference between knowing that sexuality and gender identity is biological and trying to pin down the specific reason why sexuality and gender identity is different so you can “fix” it. What “medical services” would be appropriate for same-sex “partner preference”?

  • Sheep Lover

    You people can’t get anything right, You missed the word “herders” in the report. They are studying gay sheep herders. They are focused right now in the goings on of two in particular, named Ennis and Jack.

    The actual quote is below:
    “The study began in 1965, when researchers at the Federal Sheep Herder Experiment and Ewe Preference Station (F-SHEEPS) in Brokeback, Wyoming, noticed that some herders only pretended to mate with females but preferred the company of males, particularly on yearly fishing expeditions. ”

    You’d think after Kerry missed the word “us” we’d get it together and remember the word “herder.”

  • emptypockets

    thanks for the link. I posted an update on the story today, about how this story crossed from just PETA’s nutty lies into a genuine mainstream media lollapalooza — you’ll be surprised to see the lengths the Times went to to cover up the truth and promote PETA’s anti-science agenda.

    Roselli’s work is basic research, designed to make clear how the brain forms and how sexual behavior is encoded in the brain. Where will it lead? Dunno. But the major breakthroughs — and 6 of the last 10 Nobel prizes — went to fundamental discoveries, like how smell works or how cells die. How hormones shape the brain, how the brain controls behavior — these are the basic discoveries that fuel all the rest of science.

    The hype about “curing” gayness is a bunch of hooey.

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