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Bisexuals "among the most invisible"

Wed 24 Sep 2014 In: International News View at Wayback View at NDHA

NZ celeb Anna Paquin often speaks out about being bi and corrects misconceptions. A report released in the US to mark Bisexual Awareness Week says bisexual people are vulnerable to poverty, discrimination, and poor physical and mental health outcomes, and often at rates higher than lesbian and gay Americans. Understanding Issues Facing Bisexual Americans is a guide offering an overview of the economic and health disparities facing the bisexual community, and recommendations for supporting bisexual people. It comes from BiNet USA, the Bisexual Resource Center, and the Movement Advancement Project (MAP). “Despite comprising the largest population within the LGBT community, bisexual people are among the most invisible,” says Movement Advancement Project executive director Ineke Mushovic. “The failure to account for bisexual lives and experiences compounds a lack of social support and keeps bisexual people in the closet.” It says approximately 25 per cent of bisexual men and 30 per cent of bisexual women live in poverty, compared to 15 per cent and 21 per cent of straight men and women, respectively, and 20 per cent and 23 per cent of gay men and lesbians. The report cites research that 20 per cent of bisexual Americans reported a negative employment decision based on their sexual orientation, while almost 60 per cent said they’d heard anti-bisexual jokes and comments on the job. Nearly half were not out to any of their colleagues, compared to just 24 per cent of lesbian and gay people. It says bisexual women experience significantly higher rates of violence, both overall and intimate partner violence, than - lesbians and straight women, while 46 per cent have been raped, compared with 13 per cent of lesbians and 17 per cent of straight women. Bisexual men also reported higher rates of sexual violence. It says one study found bisexuals were four times more likely, and lesbian and gay adults two times more likely, to report attempted suicide than straight adults. “Bisexual people often face pervasive stereotypes and myths surrounding bisexuality,” says Bisexual Resource Center president Ellyn Ruthstrom. “The fear of being stereotyped manifests itself in a real way: bisexual people are six times more likely than gay men and lesbians to be closeted. This impacts the emotional well-being of many bisexual people and is a contributing factor to the community’s higher rates of poor physical and mental health.” BiNet USA President Faith Cheltenham says cultural competence and deliberate and thoughtful visibility will support the bisexual community and combat stigma and discrimination.     

Credit: GayNZ.com Daily News staff

First published: Wednesday, 24th September 2014 - 9:37am

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