Bisexual Youth Are Less Happy and More Likely to Have Mental Illness Than Our Peers
Yesterday was Bisexual Pride Day, as many of you may have noticed. Compared to Pride Month back in June, the social media response was relatively quiet, but numerous users, from Broadway stars to regular people, still took to Twitter to celebrate. However, while you should definitely let your bisexual pride flag fly this week, we also should take this opportunity to discuss the findings in a new Human Rights Campaign's survey, "Supporting and Caring for Our Bisexual Youth," because according to Jezebel, they are a little disturbing.
The survey looked at more than 10,000 LGBT youths aged 13-17, and some of the results were surprising. For example, girls were much more likely than boys to identify as bisexual: one in two female participants considered themselves bi, as opposed to one in five boys. Bisexuals were much less likely to be out than their lesbian or gay peers (44 percent of bisexuals were out to their family, compared to 68 percent of lesbian and gay teens), and only five percent of bisexuals reported being happy, compared to eight percent of lesbian and gay teens and 21 percent of heterosexuals. Only one in 10 report feeling like they belong in their community. Finally, 29 percent of bisexual teens reported experiencing "frequent" harassment, a number that is comparable to the rate of bullying experienced by lesbian and gay youth.These are all risk factors for the issues such as poverty, anxiety, suicide, depression, and sexual assault that bisexuals are more likely to face as adults than their lesbian, gay, or straight peers.
These results join a large existing amount of literature showing that bisexuals are significantly more likely to be distressed and face mental illness, including depression, anxiety, self-harm, and suicidal ideation. This may be due to the bi-phobia that still pervades society — think about the number of times you've heard someone say bisexuals are "incapable of commitment," or it's "just a phase." In 2002, the Journal of Sex Research found that heterosexuals rated bisexuals less favorably than a variety of groups, from Catholics to people with AIDS, with the sole exception of "injecting drug users." And that's just published research — ask any bisexual and chances are they'll be able to come up with numerous examples of discrimination in their own lives.
One of the reasons I didn't come out in high school was because when I tried to bring it up, a family member said she thought bisexuality didn't exist and the label was for attention-seekers. Earlier this year, a manager at work told me that I was really a lesbian and dating men to reap the benefits of heterosexuality while hiding my homosexuality. I've never identified with anything more than this list of things bisexual girls are tired of hearing.
One of the reasons I didn't come out in high school was because when I tried to bring it up, a family member said she thought bisexuality didn't exist and the label was for attention-seekers.
The reminder that it's not all rainbow unicorns and happiness in the world of LGBT youth might be unsettling. It's easy to focus on the progress LGBT rights have made recently and to forget how much ground is left to cover. However, don't let this get you down too much; we've come a long way in the past few decades. Enjoy the rest of Bisexual Pride Week!Image: Getty