Sexual Orientation in Human Development

Does the environment in which an individual lives affect his sexual orientation or does sexual orientation have a genetic basis? The research on both sides is unclear, and the genesis of sexual orientation is important for social and political reasons as sexual orientation is currently a controversial topic in society.
Additionally, sexual orientation deals with the debates between the importance of early life and later life experience and whether development is continuous or discontinuous. Do events in an individual’s life, either early in life or later in life, push them toward a certain sexual orientation? Also, is the development of sexual orientation a process that occurs throughout the life of an individual or is it accomplished within a certain stage of development?
Lastly, the determination of whether certain sexual orientations are abnormal is currently a debate. Originally, psychology classified homosexual behavior as abnormal, but now, psychology considers sexual orientation as an individual difference.
While human development has been a concentration of psychology for almost the entire length of the discipline’s history, research on sexual orientation has been lacking. As Charlotte Patterson (1995) notes, the need to understand the development of sexual orientation has become increasingly important with the increased social and political emphasis on sexual issues. She points to the fact that psychology has largely ignored sexual minorities but that research is increasing. Of current concern is that there is no clear understanding of what causes the development of sexual orientation. Also, homosexuality and other non-heterosexual orientations are largely unstudied. Researchers are not even clear on the size of these minority populations or the effect that their sexuality has upon them. On the side of nature, many researchers are looking for genetic links to sexual orientation.