Latest bi magazine out now!

BCN 127

BCN 127

The latest issue of bisexual magazine BCN is out now. 

You can order issue 127 or subscribe online here

Features include:

  • Becoming a parent and staying bi-visible
  • News from Canada where new research backs bi groups
  • Badges at BiCon – what are they for?
  • This year’s BiCon debates
  • Bi Visibility Day 2014 roundup
  • And in BiMediaWatch: bisexuality in Witches of East End, Constantine and Gotham


An LGBT Manifesto for 2015?

photo: Houses of ParliamentWhere next for LGB&T equalities? The heads of some of the bigger LGBT organisations across England have put together their proposals in an LGBT manifesto for 2015.

They say: The passing of equality & same-sex marriage legislation in England, Wales & Scotland were hugely significant turning points in LGBT equality, both in terms of rights, and of the increased visibility of LGBT people. However, there is still a long way to go in ensuring full equality for LGBT people in the UK, particularly in relation to Northern Ireland and also less visible groups such as: bisexual, trans and non-binary people; BME LGBT people; older LGBT people; LGBT youth; LGBT immigrants and asylum seekers; and LGBT people who are mentally or physically disabled.

The manifesto can be downloaded here.

Its key points are:

Education: Educate all children & young people, at all levels, on gender & sexual diversity

The main message relates to education because this has the potential to address all the other points in the long-term. LGBT people will be safer if children do not grow up to be homophobic, biphobic or transphobic, whether actively or passively. LGBT people will suffer fewer mental health problems if they are not bullied at school and if they and their peers learn that diverse sexualities and genders are valid. Access to services will be less problematic if staff and employers have learned about gender and sexual diversity and the specific needs of LGBT people.
Currently, at least two thirds of LGBT young people experience homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying at school, as do many who are not LGBT. Almost all regularly hear discriminatory language and one in five have experienced physical attack and/or sexual harassment, very few of whom report this. Few people learn about LGBT identities at school, with bisexual, trans and non-binary experiences being notably absent. This impacts upon wellbeing and educational performance, as well as contributing to  attitudes within their families and whether young people feel able to come out, with 1 in 10 young people having to leave home due to lack of acceptance.
Teachers express discomfort in supporting LGBT students and in teaching on gender and sexual diversity. This is despite the tangible potential benefits decreasing prejudice and sexual violence, and increasing self-esteem and promoting healthy, consensual relationships across all students. We recommend that gender and sexual diversity is emphasised in teacher training, and embedded across the curriculum as well as in specific sexual and relationship education.

Safety: Monitor and address homophobic, biphobic & transphobic hate crime

One in five lesbian and gay people have experienced a hate crime in the last three years. It is extremely difficult to estimate the extent of biphobic hate crime as this is not  currently monitored, and transphobic hate crime is still vastly under-reported due to fear of further discrimination. Better monitoring and training is required across these areas within the criminal justic system, as well as more generally among public & private sector employers. Same-sex activities and relationships remain illegal in over 70 countries worldwide, and punishable by death in 8. Immigration services require LGBT awareness and the UK should provide a model of LGBT equality and continuing  engagement on these issues globally.

Wellbeing: Improve the mental and physical health of all LGBT people through increased visibility & improved awareness

LGBT people have significantly higher rates of mental health problems, sexual health needs, self-harm and suicidality than in the general population. Rates are particularly high for BME LGBT people and those who are bisexual, trans, and gender diverse. There are also related disparities in many physical health conditions and health behaviours (including drug and alcohol abuse), and in willingness to disclose to health professionals. There is little awareness of the specific needs of older LGBT people. Monitoring and training with regard to gender and sexual diversity, and adoption of best practice, is vital across all services.

Access: Ensure that all LGBT people have equal access to public services

LGBT people do not currently have equal access to public services due to fear of discrimination and lack of awareness of diverse needs. Monitoring, training and adequate capacity remain a priority across policy and practice including, but not restricted to: employment; healthcare; criminal justice; education; housing; domestic abuse; and family matters such as adoption and pre and post-natal care.

Manifesto Support

The LGBT Chief Executive Network is formed of a diverse range of Chief Officers, or equivalent, across the LGBT sectors in the UK. It meets several times of year and works to ensure the sector is engaged, collaborative and forward thinking. The following organisations as part of the network have signed up to the manifesto: The Intercom Trust, Bi-UK, Schools Out, Broken Rainbow, London Friend, The Rainbow Project, Birmingham LGBT, PACE, GMFA, Trade Sexual Health, LGBT Consortium, Lancaster LGBT, Galop, Cara-Friend, Yorkshire Mesmac, METRO, Stonewall Housing, Gendered Intelligence, Mind Out, New Family Social, LGBT History Month, Gay Advice Darlington & Durham, Camden LGBT Forum, The Albert Kennedy Trust, GIRES, SexYOUality, Here, Each, Allsorts Youth Project, East London Out Project, The Lesbian & Gay Foundation.

Tackling biphobia in schools: what’s your plan?

photo: Houses of ParliamentA £2 million package will be offered to schools to help them tackle biphobic, transphobic and homophobic bullying, the government has announced today. 

Organisations are being urged to come forward with ideas to stamp out such bullying.

The money announced today will be offered to charitable and not-for-profit organisations that come forward with creative ideas to stamp out homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying in our schools – those projects that will make the biggest difference to the lives of all young people growing up in modern Britain.

Nicky Morgan, Conservative Secretary of State for Education and Minister for Women and Equalities, said:

“Homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying affects everyone, not just young people who may identify as LGBT. Any young person who is different can find themselves subjected to distressing and intimidating homophobic abuse. This funding will help schools take on the challenge of making sure bullies do not stand in the way our young people achieving their full potential.”

Jo Swinson, Lib Dem Minister for Women and Equalities, said:

“Young people should grow up feeling safe expressing who they are. We know the damage bullies can cause to young people’s self-esteem and educational attainment. There should be absolutely no excuse for this taking place in our schools.

“I am excited to see the creative proposals that this fund will bring about, to make sure we can bring homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying to an end.”

Facebook apologises over ‘real name’ policy failings

facebookFacebook has started to backtrack on a policy that stops many bi and trans users getting the most out of the website.

The giant of social networking has been facing more and more criticism following its decision to delete a raft of user accounts it deemed to have registered under “fake names”. While there are many accounts under the names of pet dogs, cats, newts and so forth that are rarely removed, the site had started to target the stage names of drag queen performers and others who use the site under names for which they might not have identity papers. It affects a lot of trans people; it affects a lot of bisexual people too who may want space to talk about their sexual orientation without family or work colleagues finding them when they aren’t in a safe situation to be out about their sexuality.

Facebook’s Chief Product Officer, Chris Cox, yesterday issued a statement – this being Facebook, naturally through his profile page there.

I want to apologize to the affected community of drag queens, drag kings, transgender, and extensive community of our friends, neighbors, and members of the LGBT community for the hardship that we’ve put you through in dealing with your Facebook accounts over the past few weeks.

In the two weeks since the real-name policy issues surfaced, we’ve had the chance to hear from many of you in these communities and understand the policy more clearly as you experience it. We’ve also come to understand how painful this has been. We owe you a better service and a better experience using Facebook, and we’re going to fix the way this policy gets handled so everyone affected here can go back to using Facebook as you were.

The way this happened took us off guard. An individual on Facebook decided to report several hundred of these accounts as fake. These reports were among the several hundred thousand fake name reports we process every single week, 99 percent of which are bad actors doing bad things: impersonation, bullying, trolling, domestic violence, scams, hate speech, and more — so we didn’t notice the pattern. The process we follow has been to ask the flagged accounts to verify they are using real names by submitting some form of ID — gym membership, library card, or piece of mail. We’ve had this policy for over 10 years, and until recently it’s done a good job of creating a safe community without inadvertently harming groups like what happened here.

Our policy has never been to require everyone on Facebook to use their legal name. The spirit of our policy is that everyone on Facebook uses the authentic name they use in real life. For Sister Roma, that’s Sister Roma. For Lil Miss Hot Mess, that’s Lil Miss Hot Mess. Part of what’s been so difficult about this conversation is that we support both of these individuals, and so many others affected by this, completely and utterly in how they use Facebook.

We believe this is the right policy for Facebook for two reasons. First, it’s part of what made Facebook special in the first place, by differentiating the service from the rest of the internet where pseudonymity, anonymity, or often random names were the social norm. Second, it’s the primary mechanism we have to protect millions of people every day, all around the world, from real harm. The stories of mass impersonation, trolling, domestic abuse, and higher rates of bullying and intolerance are oftentimes the result of people hiding behind fake names, and it’s both terrifying and sad. Our ability to successfully protect against them with this policy has borne out the reality that this policy, on balance, and when applied carefully, is a very powerful force for good.

All that said, we see through this event that there’s lots of room for improvement in the reporting and enforcement mechanisms, tools for understanding who’s real and who’s not, and the customer service for anyone who’s affected. These have not worked flawlessly and we need to fix that. With this input, we’re already underway building better tools for authenticating the Sister Romas of the world while not opening up Facebook to bad actors. And we’re taking measures to provide much more deliberate customer service to those accounts that get flagged so that we can manage these in a less abrupt and more thoughtful way. To everyone affected by this, thank you for working through this with us and helping us to improve the safety and authenticity of the Facebook experience for everyone.

This is good news for the fluffy mascots of bi groups across the land. And quite a lot of people.

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