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Report: Bisexual people suffer violence, discrimination
New stats released for Bisexual Awareness Week
2014-09-22

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From press releases

A new reports from the Movement Advance Project shows that more than 50% of people in the U.S. are bisexual in their orientation. The study was conducted with BiNet USA and the Bisexual Resource Center.

See www.lgbtmap.org/understanding-issues-facing-bisexual-americans for details.

The report states: "There are over 9 million LGBT people in the United States. While more than half identify as bisexual, the high poverty, discrimination, and poor physical and mental health outcomes within the bisexual population—often at rates higher than their lesbian and gay peers—point toward an urgent need to provide services and support for this segment of the community. This guide contains an introduction to the bisexual community, an overview of the economic and health disparities facing the community, and some recommendations for supporting bisexual people through advocacy, research, and programming."

Also released this week was a report published today by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation showing that 40% of more than 10,000 LGBT youth surveyed by the organization identify as bisexual—and many of them say they face more challenges coming out and gaining acceptance than their lesbian and gay peers.

The Supporting and Caring For Our Bisexual Youth report, based on one of the largest surveys ever of LGBT youth and released in partnership with the Bisexual Resource Center, BiNet USA, and the Bisexual Organizing Project, also reveals a troubling chasm between the experiences of bisexual youth in America and their non-LGBT peers.

Only five percent of bisexual youth reported being "very happy," compared to 21 percent of non-LGBT youth surveyed separately to provide a point of comparison.

Nearly a third of bisexual young people said they had been "frequently or often" harassed or called names at school, compared to nine percent of non-LGBT youth who reported similar mistreatment.

When asked if they have an adult family member they can turn to, 44 percent of bisexual youth said they did, compared to 79 percent of non-LGBT youth who reported having a supportive adult at home.

And many of the young people surveyed expressed the potential to be attracted to more than one gender, but rejected the term "bisexual" when describing their sexual orientation. Instead, they wrote their own descriptions, including "queer" and "pansexual."

The findings, released on the 15th annual Celebrate Bisexuality Day, also show that bisexual youth in America are overwhelmingly female, and confront broad skepticism and misunderstanding about their sexual identities.

"It hurts deeply when young people are told they are not legitimate, and, unfortunately, that is what many bisexual youth are hearing from their family and friends," says Ellen Kahn, director of the HRC Foundation's Children, Youth & Families Program. "This report will help bust the myths and misunderstandings associated with bisexuality, and create a space for young people to be more open, and to find the support they deserve."

The survey of 10,030 young people ages 13 to 17 and commissioned in 2012 by the HRC Foundation found that bisexual youth remain deeply disconnected from the larger LGBT community and its services. They are less optimistic about their futures than their non-LGBT counterparts, less engaged in their communities and schools, and highly susceptible to sexual harassment.

"Bisexual teen girls provided troubling descriptions of sexual harassment, an unfortunate early indicator of just how dangerous stereotyping is to our safety," says Faith Cheltenham, president of BiNet USA. "Statistics show that these threats continue for adult bi women, who, during their lifetimes, report alarmingly high rates of rape, physical violence and stalking by an intimate partner."

The report also illuminates a disconnect between bisexual youth and caring adults, be they parents, teachers, or those working in LGBT support organizations. Biphobia, the report found, remains a serious problem in the LGBT community, and compounds the challenges faced by bisexual youth.

"Those who work with youth know how important it is for their success to have at least one person they can turn to when they are struggling with their lives," says Ellyn Ruthstrom, president of the Bisexual Resource Center. "This study sadly indicates that bi youth are not accessing support services - in fact, most of them don't even know that there are services available to them."

The HRC Foundation, BiNet, the Bisexual Resource Center, and the Bisexual Organizing Project anticipate that the report, its findings and recommendations, will help guide important figures in these young peoples' lives - including those in the LGBT community - to reach, support, and meet their unique needs.

"We have a responsibility to educate ourselves and to open the doors for young bisexual people to live openly, and to thrive," Kahn says. "We adults must step up and change the conversation about bisexuality, and accept and embrace our bisexual youth."

The Supporting and Caring For Our Bisexual Youth report can be found online here: www.hrc.org/youth/supporting-and-caring-for-our-bisexual-youth . A host of resources for bisexual youth and those who support them is included in the report.


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