A new report by the Center for American Progress (otherwise known as CAP) revealed that bisexual people face poverty, mental health issues, and identity issues at higher degrees than their lesbian and gay peers.
The study was conducted with the belief that there isn’t enough data out there concerning just bisexual people. Instead, bisexual people are often tied together with their gay and lesbian peers. Yet, the bisexual experience is unique and different from these two groups.
As such, CAP conducted a survey in which it asked questions of 1,864 LGBTQ adults (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and/or transgender, queer, asexual) and 1,007 heterosexual and cisgender/nontransgender adults.
Once the data was collected, the results were specifically separated by groups defined by sexuality. This is how CAP was able to compare the results concerning bisexual people to their heterosexual and homosexual peers.
As for the results, they found that bisexual+ people, as pansexual and queer people who have experienced attraction to more than one sex were merged with bisexual respondents, reported several unfortunate circumstances.
First, Bi+ men were four times as likely to report living in poverty compared to straight men. The numbers surmounted to 24% Bi+ men reporting a life in poverty, 12% gay men, and 6% straight men. Meanwhile, Bi+ women were at 21%, 13% of lesbians reported the same, and 14% of straight women also reported as such.
In addition, Bi+ women were less likely to report that they were currently working. 53% of bi women said so while 76% of lesbian said they were employed, and 65% of straight women said the same. For the men, the numbers were a little closer with Bi+ men at 65%, Gay men at 70%, and Straight men at 78%.
In addition, Bi+ women were more likely to use public benefits like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Medicaid than their straight and lesbian peers. 27% and 21% of Bi+ women said they were using SNAP and Medicaid respectively while only 10% of Lesbians said they were using either program. Also, 10% and 16% of Straight women said they were using SNAP and Medicaid.
Sadly, the news doesn’t end there as Bi+ men reported worse mental health outcomes than straight men and bi+ women reported experiencing poorer physical and mental health outcomes than straight women and lesbians combined.
Lastly, the study shared the fact that bisexual erasure plays a part in the poor experiences of bisexual people too. While bisexual people with a partner of a different gender may not experience discrimination in the way that their gay or lesbian peers do, they experience bisexual erasure through feelings of shame or isolation.
It is important to note that the data found in this survey is not statistically significant because of the sample size. That said, they give an idea into a community that is often erased or combined with other groups.
What’s really important about this survey is the fact that it teaches us to separate bisexual people from the rest of the LGBTQ community when it comes time to research. Their responses and experiences are unique enough to warrant individual attention.