Changing Attitudes in Research and Society towards Lesbians, Gays, and Bisexuals: A Meta-Narrative Review
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Over the past 50 years, the United States has gone from viewing homosexuality as a mental illness to legalizing same-sex marriage. This widespread shift in attitude is not only the result of social movements but also a paradigm shift in scientific discourse. Through an examination of social change theory and a thorough meta-narrative review of scientific literature on lesbians, gays, and bisexuals from 1960 to 2015, this study seeks an answer to the question of whether society has led to a paradigm shift in research or whether science has led to societal change. Eight hundred articles from multiple databases were coded by decade, theme, representation of and attitude towards sexual minorities. Articles were sorted into the broad categories of health, family, education, and public opinion since the gay rights movement has largely focused on achieving change in these areas. To track change over time, the data were compared quantitatively and qualitatively in the context of lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) history. Kuhn and Foucault’s theories on scientific revolutions and societal power-dynamics offer support for the conclusion that social changes led to transformations in scientific thinking. This longitudinal, multidisciplinary study, the first of its kind, will allow for better informed policies, activism, and scientific research on LGB issues.