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.)