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Sexual Orientation Policy Tally

The term “sexual orientation” is loosely defined as a person’s pattern of romantic or sexual attraction to people of the opposite sex or gender, the same sex or gender, or more than one sex or gender. Laws that explicitly mention sexual orientation primarily protect or harm lesbian, gay, and bisexual people. That said, transgender people who are lesbian, gay or bisexual can be affected by laws that explicitly mention sexual orientation.

Gender Identity Policy Tally

“Gender identity” is a person’s deeply-felt inner sense of being male, female, or something else or in-between. “Gender expression” refers to a person’s characteristics and behaviors such as appearance, dress, mannerisms and speech patterns that can be described as masculine, feminine, or something else. Gender identity and expression are independent of sexual orientation, and transgender people may identify as heterosexual, lesbian, gay or bisexual. Laws that explicitly mention “gender identity” or “gender identity and expression” primarily protect or harm transgender people. These laws also can apply to people who are not transgender, but whose sense of gender or manner of dress does not adhere to gender stereotypes.

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New Report Details High Rates of Violence, Discrimination toward Bisexual People

Denver, September 22, 2014 — According to a new report released today in conjunction with Bisexual Awareness Week, while more than half of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community identifies as bisexual, bisexual people are vulnerable to poverty, discrimination, and poor physical and mental health outcomes—often at rates higher than their lesbian and gay peers.

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 through advocacy, research, and programming. The resource was developed by 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,” said Ineke Mushovic, executive director of the Movement Advancement Project. “The failure to account for bisexual lives and experiences compounds a lack of social support and keeps bisexual people in the closet.”

Bisexual people experience significant health, safety, and economic disparities. These include:

  • Poverty: Approximately 25% of bisexual men and 30% of bisexual women live in poverty, compared to 15% and 21% of heterosexual men and women, respectively, and 20% and 23% of gay men and lesbians.
  • Employment: While 20% of bisexuals report experiencing a negative employment decision based on their sexual orientation, almost 60% of bisexual people report hearing anti-bisexual jokes and comments on the job. Nearly half of bisexual people report that they are not out to any of their coworkers (49%), compared to just 24% of lesbian and gay people.
  • Violence: Bisexual women experience significantly higher rates of violence—both overall and intimate partner violence—compared to lesbians and straight women: 46% of bisexual women have experienced rape, compared to 13% and 17% of lesbian and straight women, respectively. Bisexual men also report higher rates of sexual violence; nearly half of bisexual men (47%) report experiencing sexual violence other than rape in their lifetime.
  • Suicide: 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,” said Ellyn Ruthstrom, president of the Bisexual Resource Center. “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.”

“More and more organizations are realizing that they need specific resources and programming for bisexual people,” said Faith Cheltenham, president of BiNet USA. “Cultural competence and deliberate and thoughtful visibility will support the bisexual community and combat stigma and discrimination against bisexual people.”

About the Authors

BiNet USA is America’s civil-rights & advocacy group for all bisexual, fluid, pansexual, and queer-identified people, and their families, friends, and allies. www.binetusa.org

Founded in 1985, Bisexual Resource Center is the oldest national bisexual organization in the U.S. that advocates for bisexual visibility and raises awareness about bisexuality throughout the LGBT and straight communities. The BRC envisions a world where love is celebrated, regardless of sexual orientation or gender expression. www.biresource.net

Founded in 2006, the Movement Advancement Project is an independent think tank that provides rigorous research, insight and analysis that help speed equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Learn more at www.lgbtmap.org

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Media Contact:
Calla Rongerude
Movement Advancement Project (MAP)
415-205-2420
calla@lgbtmap.org

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