Bisexual Health Awareness Month Draws Attention to Community’s Urgent Health Needs
Guest Post by Ellyn Ruthstrom
- Forty-five percent of bisexual women have considered or attempted suicide, followed by bisexual men (35%), lesbians (30%), gay men (25%), and much lower rates for heterosexual women and men.
- Bisexual women are twice as likely to have an eating disorder than lesbians.
- Bisexual women report the highest rates of alcohol use, heavy drinking, and alcohol-related problems when compared to heterosexual and lesbian women.
- Bisexual men and women report the highest rates of smoking of all orientations.
These are startling statistics that up until a few years ago we weren’t aware of because bisexual data was not being separated out from the lesbian and gay data. Now we have the numbers to show that the bi community has severe physical and mental health disparities that are in urgent need of being addressed.
To help raise awareness about these and other health issues, the Bisexual Resource Center (BRC) has designated March as Bisexual* Health Awareness Month. Entitled “Bi the Way, Our Health Matters Too!,” it is the first social media event of its kind to raise widespread awareness specifically about bisexual health disparities using Facebook and Twitter.
The Bisexual Health Awareness campaign will focus on the following bisexual health issues throughout the month of March:
- March 3-7 Mental Health & Biphobia: This week will highlight important statistics about mental health disparities in the bisexual community, including the high rates of suicidality, anxiety disorders, and substance abuse. Plus, how biphobia is linked to these dramatic numbers.
- March 10-14 Safer Sex & Sexual Health: The focus this week will be on the need for bi-sensitive information about sexually transmitted infections (STIs), how sexual health education can be bi-inclusive, and safer sex practices and resources.
- March 17-21 Nutrition & Physical Activity: This week we’ll point out cardiovascular-related disparities in the bisexual community, including higher blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and encourage ways to improve health through nutrition and exercise.
- March 24-28 Intimate Partner Violence & Sexual Violence: The final week of the campaign will draw attention to the high rates of rape, physical violence, and stalking experienced by bisexuals via an intimate partner.
Bisexuals have often been misunderstood, marginalized, and discriminated against in both heterosexual and LGBT spaces. Despite actively working within the LGBT equality movement for decades, bisexuals are often erased and considered a small subgroup of the community. Yet, the Williams Institute has found that approximately half of self-identified LGBT Americans identify as bisexual. This reluctance to address the needs of a large part of the community, and sometimes overt biphobia, has resulted in many bisexuals feeling alienated and alone, which contributes to a high incidence of depression, substance abuse, suicide, and other high-stress indicators.
The BRC will be posting and tweeting all month-long and we are encouraging other bi-specific and LGBT organizations to share and retweet to keep the information circulating throughout the community. We want to both raise awareness about these very serious health issues in the bi community and also foster connections between individuals and organizations that will help us work on these issues. Our community is suffering and we can no longer afford to be the invisible majority of the LGBT community.
You can follow the month-long campaign on the Bisexual Resource Center’s Facebook page and follow BRC’s Twitter feed (@BRC_Central) and the hashtag #bihealthmonth.
The Bisexual Resource Center (BRC) has been advocating for bisexual visibility and raising awareness about bisexuality throughout the LGBT and straight communities since 1985. The Bisexual Resource Center envisions a world where love is celebrated, regardless of sexual orientation or gender expression. Visit www.biresource.net.
* The BRC uses bisexual as an umbrella term for people who recognize and honor their potential for sexual and emotional attraction to more than one gender (pansexual, fluid, omnisexual, queer, and all other free-identifiers). We celebrate and affirm the diversity of identity and expression regardless of labels.