Survey reveals attitudes on same-sex attraction

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    By HEATHER GOLLAHER

    @by:By HEATHER GOLLAHER

    @by2:Universe Staff Writer

    text:Most students do not know the official stance of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on same-sex attraction, according to a survey conducted by English 315 students designed to gauge students’ awareness and opinions on the issue.

    The survey, created by Samuel Clayton, Melanie Dinger and Dale Franklin, from Gladys Farmer’s English 315 class, also showed students’ opinions on issues, such as whether a student attracted to individuals of the same-sex should be allowed to attend BYU.

    Several students approached with the survey thought it was a joke, which Dinger said indicates a lack of awareness.

    Franklin, who was interested in doing the research, found most people are familiar with the stand of the LDS Church on same-sex attraction, but don’t know all the details.

    Survey results show 91 percent reported they know the stand of the church on this issue; however, when asked to choose the correct answer, which is that the LDS church accepts same-sex oriented people who live the church’s law of chastity, only 33 percent answered correctly.

    According to LDS Church materials, in modern and ancient times, God has commanded all of his children to lead strictly moral lives before and after marriage — intimate relations being permissible only between a man and a woman legally and lawfully married.

    “People may have leanings toward all sorts of temptations, but inasmuch as they don’t give in to those temptations, they’re living the principles of the gospel,” said Clayton Newell, media spokesperson for the LDS Church. “We don’t reject people for any thoughts or leanings. It is when they act out certain tendencies that they may come up against certain commandments.”

    Concerning the survey, Franklin said most of the research was done in classes, but some was by random selection of students at different locations.

    Survey results show 42 percent of students think same-sex oriented students should not be allowed to attend BYU, even if they keep the Honor Code. Franklin believes the concern with the issues is simply related to ignorance.

    “Most people think that BYU does not want them on campus, but a surprising number have said that gays should be allowed on campus if they follow the Honor Code,” Franklin said.

    Some questions include whether the respondent knows anyone who is same-sex oriented, if they would live with a roommate who is same-sex oriented and if they would be opposed to a campus organization that offered discussion groups for the same-sex oriented.

    Other topics addressed in the survey are whether the person knows the church’s stand on the issue of same-sex attraction, and what they believe the factual causes for same-sex attraction are.

    Forty-eight percent of the people surveyed were male and 51 percent were female. The general age range of the students was between 18 and 25 years old and over 78 different majors were reported. Nineteen percent were married.

    Sixty-nine percent of the students surveyed said they know someone who is same-sex oriented and 13 percent know of someone at BYU. Although 72 percent said they would not avoid befriending someone based on their sexual preference, 78 percent said they would not live with a same-sex oriented roommate.

    Ninety percent of students were in favor of providing counseling for these students on campus. Forty-one percent were opposed to an open discussion group at BYU. Also, 87 percent believe same-sex attraction is not a fixed or unchangeable condition.

    Students were the most divided on the issue of causation. Seventy-three percent did not see genetics as a reason for same-sex attraction. Eighty-three percent see it as a conscious choice made by the individual. Seventy percent see environmental factors as a cause. Seventeen percent gave other reasons.

    Clayton said he feels some BYU students showed their ignorance through their responses. Some actual answers were, “failure as a heterosexual,” and “they’re idiots.”

    The survey questions were reviewed and approved by the BYU Human Subject Review Committee. The conditions for a proposal to be accepted for research are how well it follows the federal regulations that protect humans from harm, and whether it compromises the standards of the church or BYU, said Committee Member Gary Reynolds.

    The administration also received a copy of the survey results.

    “The results were very interesting,” said Janet Scharman, associate Student Life vice president and dean of students. “We like to receive any information that helps us to know and understand the attitudes of BYU students.”

    The sample was chosen by a computer that randomly selected classes from the entire course schedule. The survey said there was a 97 percent level of confidence with a 3.25 percent margin of error. The sample size was 420 students.

    However, Howard Christensen, a faculty member in the Department of Statistics, noted several potential problems with the research methodology. Christensen said there is a small chance that a student could receive the survey more than once as their class could be selected by the computer more than once. Also, a similar mind-set in a class could color the results, he said.

    Another problem is that they selected a cluster sample. “In a cluster sample, the margin of error is determined by the number of classes, not by the number of students,” Christensen said. “For the size of the sample they claim, the best margin of error they could have had was 5 percent, with a 95 percent confidence level. However, these figures would only be true if they had in fact selected a random sample from students and not from classes.”

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