Common Questions About Sexual Orientation

Topic Overview

Many people believe things that aren't true about gay, lesbian, and bisexual people. Here are some questions people sometimes have.

Question: Can gay, lesbian, and bisexual people change their sexual orientation? Can they get some kind of treatment?

  • Answer: Like heterosexuals, gay, lesbian, and bisexual people don't feel they can choose their sexual orientation. Most are satisfied to be who they are. They would not wish to become heterosexual. No "treatment" has been shown to change a person's sexual orientation.

Question: Can child abuse affect sexual orientation?

  • Answer: Abuse does not make people straight, gay, or bisexual. Science has not yet discovered what determines sexual orientation.

Question: I have an uncle who is gay. Should I worry about letting my children stay with him? I've heard that gay people are more likely to be child molesters.

  • Answer: The ability to be a loving, trustworthy relative has nothing to do with whether a person is straight or gay. Gay people are no more likely to molest children than heterosexual people are.

Question: My lesbian daughter and her partner are adopting a little girl. Will my new granddaughter grow up to be gay?

  • Answer: There is no way to know this in advance. But a child's sexual orientation seems to come from inside. Most children of gay and lesbian parents grow up to be heterosexual. And most gay and lesbian children have heterosexual parents.

Question: Is it true that people who are bisexual change partners a lot?

  • Answer: Being bisexual just means that the person has been romantically or sexually attracted to both males and females at least once. Many bisexual people are monogamous, which means they have only one partner at a time.

For more information, see the topics:


Other Works Consulted

  • American Psychological Association (2008). Answers to Your Questions: For a Better Understanding of Sexual Orientation and Homosexuality. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. Available online:
  • APA Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Concerns (2011). Answers to Your Questions About Transgender Individuals and Gender Identity. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. Available online:
  • Biggs WS (2011). Medical human sexuality. In RE Rakel, DP Rakel, eds., Textbook of Family Medicine, 8th ed., pp. 1000–1012. Philadelphia: Saunders.
  • Hillman JB, Spigarelli MG (2009). Sexuality: Its development and direction. In WB Carey et al., eds., Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics, 4th ed., pp. 415–425. Philadelphia: Saunders Elsevier.
  • Sadock VA (2009). Normal human sexuality and sexual and gender identity disorders. In BJ Sadock et al., eds., Kaplan and Sadock's Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry, 9th ed., vol. 1, pp. 2027–2060. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
  • Zucker KJ (2011). Gender identity and sexual behavior. In CD Rudolph et al., eds., Rudolph's Pediatrics, 22nd ed., pp. 346–348. New York: McGraw-Hill.


Current as of: September 23, 2020

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Elizabeth T. Russo MD - Internal Medicine
Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine

Common Questions About Sexual Orientation