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          Is Homosexuality a Learned Behavior?

          September 11, 2002

          Christine: My 22-year-old daughter is in a relationship with a woman. I don’t believe she is a lesbian. Could this be a form of rebellion and a result of getting in with the “wrong” crowd? Can homosexuality be learned and unlearned?

          Dr. Phil: Homosexuality is not a learned behavior. A sexual orientation is inherited; you are wired that way. Certainly some people will experiment with a gay lifestyle, and a gay person might experiment with a heterosexual one. If she is really gay, she will find a place in that life and in that community. The important thing is that you just love her through that. What difference does it make if she is gay? Accept her, support her and do not be judgmental. It is difficult enough for her to live openly and honestly in this society; don’t put your judgment on top of that.

          Terri: My 17-year-old daughter is struggling with her sexual identity and might be a lesbian. If she has a girl sleep in her room overnight, and I think something is going on in there, how do I deal with that?

          Dr. Phil: You deal with it by having an open, intelligent dialogue about it. A dialogue is an ongoing conversation. You have the right to set boundaries in your home, whether you’re dealing with a same-sex or opposite-sex partner.

          Bob: Homosexuality is a hard life; you’re pre-judged. I want my daughter to know that it’s a hard road to go down.

          Dr. Phil: A hard life is living a lie every day of your existence — that’s a hard life. For you to ask her to deny who she is, not be authentic, and say, ‘OK, people will judge me if I’m not heterosexual,’ and for her to hide that and live in a closeted way all of her life, is horrible.

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