A few years ago the president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, asserted that his nation did not have gays as they did in the West. What Ahmadinejad seems to have meant is that a public gay identity does not exist in Iran. He has to be aware that homosexual behavior is not unknown in his nation. More generally Ahmadinejad’s comments brought up the issue of men having sex with men throughout the Middle East before marriage. This is a taboo topic in much of the region, so getting good quantitative data seems pretty much impossible. But today PLoS Medicine came out with a paper with a result which suggests that the anecdotes of relatively widespread homosexual behavior in the Middle East are not totally unfounded or unrepresentative (the journalist Hugh Pope has indicated that Middle Eastern men have sometimes assumed he would naturally be open to sexual propositions because he was a Westerner. He grew a mustache to discourage such inquiries) . The paper is about HIV, Are HIV Epidemics among Men Who Have Sex with Men Emerging in the Middle East and North Africa?: A Systematic Review and Data Synthesis. Here’s the figure which jumped out at me:
Gregory pressed, asking “Is being gay a choice?”
Pawlenty ultimately said, “I defer to the scientists in that regard.”
Again, Gregory pressed: “So you, you think it’s not a choice. … That you are, as Lady Gaga says, you’re born that way.”
Said Pawlenty: “There’s no scientific conclusion that it’s genetic. We don’t know that. So we don’t know to what extent, you know, it’s behavioral, and that’s something that’s been debated by scientists for a long time. But as I understand the science, there’s no current conclusion that it’s genetic.”
I noticed that Jim DeMint has said some controversial things about the demographic criteria of teachers:
Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) says that even though “no one” came to his defense in 2004 after he said that gay people and unwed mothers should be banned from teaching, “everyone” quietly told him that he shouldn’t back down from his position.
The Spartanberg Herald-Journal described the comments this way: “DeMint said if someone is openly homosexual, they shouldn’t be teaching in the classroom and he holds the same position on an unmarried woman who’s sleeping with her boyfriend — she shouldn’t be in the classroom.” DeMint did not apparently state his position on whether sexually active unmarried male teachers should be similarly removed from classrooms.
My interest was piqued because there are questions in the GSS about allowing gays to teach. We can see how many people in the country agree with DeMint. How the proportion has changed over the years, and also the demographic correlates of variation in attitudes. Additionally, I wanted to compare attitudes to allowing homosexuals to teach with allowing anti-religionists and racists to teach. First, over time: