A new report by the National Union of Students reports on life for bisexual, transgender, lesbian and gay students today.
While it is often ‘lumpy’ in its treatment of data – combining bisexual, lesbian and gay experience into one – the report does have some findings on bi experience. For example:
“Only 40 per cent of bisexual respondents are out to their family, compared to 72.5 per cent of gay and 77 per cent of lesbian respondents; 82 per cent are out to their friends, compared to 96 per cent of gay and lesbian respondents; and slightly more than one in 10 bisexual students are out to academic staff, compared to 40 per cent of gay and a third of lesbian respondents.”
This ties in with other research over the last few years which has shown bi workers are less likely to feel they can be open about their orientation in the workplace than gay and lesbian staff.
Bi students are also more likely to have considered dropping out of university courses than gay or straight students, and are to feel less able to speak up during classes or to be welcomed as a participant in group activities than their lesbian or gay peers.
However the report’s recommendations are disappointing, urging action by universities and student unions only on homophobia and transphobia.
You can read it in full here.
This weekend’s National Union of Students LGBT conference includes one bi motion on its agenda, on recent reporting in Diva magazine about bisexuals dating lesbians.
The motion reads:
Motion 504 I’m not bi-curious, I’m bi-furious!
1. Diva magazine is the only monthly glossy newsstand magazine for lesbians and bi women in the UK. Its facebook page expressly says one of its aims is “to encourage lesbians and bi women to feel happy and positive about their sexuality”.
2. Diva magazine invited comment on its facebook wall asking the following question:
“I am writing an article for DIVA magazine about why some lesbians avoid dating bi women and the reasons for their decision. I am interested in hearing from lesbians and bi women who are willing to share their dating experiences and opinions with me. You are welcome to use a pseudonym if you like. This is not a generalised article about biphobia, but looks at the specific choice some women make to exclude bisexuals from their “dating pool”. My aim is to explore an issue that continues to provoke strong feelings within our community in an objective way, and to understand why this is so.”
3. This topic elicited a stream of comments, many of which were extremely biphobic and maintained that bisexual women who slept with men were contaminated, that bisexuality is just a phase and that bisexual women eventually return to men because it is an easier lifestyle.
1. Biphobia is hurtful and wrong wheresoever it occurs but even more so when it comes from within a community that is meant to include and embrace bisexuality.
2. Negative stereotypes of bi women remain prevalent in the media and in the LGBT community.
3. Bi women are a valuable and active group in LGBT communities which should be the first place to go for comfort and to liberate oneself.
4. Despite Diva magazine’s admirable statement of inclusivity, more needs to be done by them to counteract negative stereotypes of bi women, who are a core part of their readership.
5. Although it is not Diva magazine’s job to police their readers’ opinions, when such biphobia is being voiced on their turf it is clear that they have a duty to reinforce their commitment to inclusivity.
6. Bi men are subject to similar discrimination in gay male media and communities.
1. To contact Diva magazine encouraging them to include more content about bi women, and to actively counter negative stereotypes.
2. To do the equivalent for magazines catering for MSM where appropriate.
3. To continue to challenge biphobia wheresoever it is found.
Whether the motion is taken will depend on a priorities ballot.
We note that other queer magazines are available with more reliably bi-positive reporting!
The National Union of Students’ annual LGBT conference in May will discuss bisexuality – and specifically, the way bisexuality is exploited in sexist advertising. The motion tabled for discussion reads:
405 Bisexuality – Sexism in Raunch Culture
1. That many members of our campaign define as bisexual or as being attracted to people of more than one gender.
2. That there are some very apparent negative stereotypes of bisexual people especially women.
3. That there is a pressure on ‘the scene’ to conform to these stereotypes. Meaning our own community is reinforcing these stereotypes.
Conference Further Believes:
1. That most popular images of bisexual women are related to raunch culture or the porn industry, mainly for profit.
2. The media reinforce the stereotypes of bisexual people.
3. That there is a huge taboo in society for men to be bisexual.
1. For the NUS LGBT campaign to promote positive role models of bi people.
2. For the campaign to engage with the bi community on these issues.
3. To campaign against the commercialisation of our sexuality for profit and exploitation.
Conference is open to limited numbers of attendees from affiliated Universities and Colleges across the UK.
Looking for bisexuality resources for a university or college student freshers fair this September?
Look no further. Just drop the friendly folks at Bi Community News a line and they can sort you out with some materials!
But make sure you act soon, as they tell us the teleport machine at BCN Towers is on the blink and they’ll need time to get things to you by post.
NUS LGBT guide to bi inclusion
The National Union of Students Lesbian, Gay, Bi & Trans campaign (NUS LGBT) have published a guide to making university and college LGBT groups more welcoming and inclusive to bisexual students.
You can download a copy from here.