Last week was #BiVisibility Week, which has been marked each year since 1999 to highlight biphobia and to help people find the bisexual community. While it was great to see attention focused on the challenges faced by the bisexual community during #BiVisibility Week, it's important to continue this effort throughout the year, building more affirming spaces for individuals that identify as bisexual in our homes, schools, community organizations, and workplaces.
Serving as The Center’s Diversity Training Director, I get the opportunity to train and consult with a variety of companies, nonprofit organizations and government agencies on LGBTQ diversity and inclusion. Fortunately, there have been tremendous strides made within “corporate” America over the last decade to be inclusive to LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning) employees, such as:
- 91% of Fortune 500 companies having Sexual Orientation and 61% having Gender Identity, in their Non-Discrimination Policies1
- 609 businesses earning 100% score in the Human Rights Campaign’s 2018 Corporate Equality Index2
Despite these advances, however, bisexual employees often struggle for visibility and inclusivity within the workplace. Jokes, myths and stereotypes made about bisexuality being a phase or bisexual people being promiscuous, greedy, or needing to pick a side are hurtful, inaccurate, and invalidating. They cause bisexual people to avoid and/or withdraw from social interaction, and over time, can even lead to various of health disparities.
These types of statements aren’t only coming from straight colleagues, they’re also coming from lesbian and gay colleagues.
One misconception is that the bisexual community represents a small subset of the overall LGB community. In fact, several studies have sited that the number of adults and adolescents that self-identify as bisexual, exceeds those that self-identify as gay or lesbian. The increase is notably greater within adolescents. Additional misconceptions are that bisexual women pretend to like women simply for attention and bisexual men are afraid to come out as gay. Both, causing bi people to remain in the closet and remain invisible.
Here are a few ways to be bi-inclusive:
- Get informed and educated about the bisexual community
- Don’t assume that someone in a same-sex relationship is lesbian/gay or different-sex relationship is straight
- Speak up against negative comments or jokes about the bisexual community
- Share positive stories and/or references about bisexual people
- If your company has an LGBTQ ERG (employee business group), make sure that it recognizes its bisexual employees
As we move past #BiVisibility Week, I encourage us all to be more informed and supportive of our bisexual community members each and every day of the year.
1HRC: The Cost of the Closet and the Rewards of Inclusion, 2018
2HRC: 2018 Corporate Equality Index