A new report out of Britain’s Open University last week looks at the unique challenges facing the bisexual community and the compounding impact of homophobia and biphobia. A meta-analysis of various studies found that bisexual people face a higher risk of mental health problems — such as depression, anxiety, self harm, and suicidal thinking — than even gays and lesbians. This is because people who are bi face distinct forms of stereotypes and exclusion that come from both the straight and gay communities. Here are a selection of some of the recommendations the study makes for combating biphobia:
- Separate biphobia out from homophobia, recognising that there are specific issues facing bisexual people such as lack of acknowledgement of their existence, stereotypes of greediness or promiscuity, and pressure to be either gay or straight.
- Recognise the role that biphobia and bisexual invisibility play in creating negative outcomes for bisexual people.
- Recognise that bisexual people are also subject to homophobia, heterosexism and heteronormativity.
- Tackle biphobic hate crime by separating out the experiences of bisexual people in national surveys, examining bisexual-specific experiences, and particularly addressing sexual assault.
- Specifically target bisexual youth in sexual health campaigns, rather than subsuming them in lesbian and gay categories. Any restrictions relating to sexual health, such as the donation of blood, should be around safety of sexual practices engaged in rather than the genders or sexual identities of those involved.
The full report is worth a read, as it includes the testimony of many bisexual people and a helpful discussion for understanding the identity’s many possible variations. Given researchers are still wasting time on whether bisexuality even exists — it does — further examination for the unique experiences of bi people can further an understanding of all people’s sexualities and the way society treats them. (HT: Jane Fae.)