Different For Bis – All the latest bi research

February 2017 edition

This year’s Stonewall Workplace Equality Index is out – a report based on monitoring of employers’ work on LGBT inclusion and representation, and a parallel survey completed by some 91,000 employees at companies and organisations.

It’s important when reading the results to remember that it reflects around 400 workplaces which are actively working to be more inclusive and accepting of bi, gay and trans staff. This is, largely, as good as it gets, rather than a representation of the working environment as a whole across the UK.

The staff survey asks 11 short questions covering key indicators of workplace culture, including:
• Are lesbian, gay and bi people comfortable disclosing their sexual orientation at work?
• Are there visible lesbian, gay, bi and trans role models in the organisation?
• Are lesbian, gay, bi and trans employees supported by managers and senior managers?
• Are staff confident reporting homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying in the workplace?

Of the respondents, 16,039 identified as lesbian, gay or bi. Half of these identified as gay men (51 per cent), a quarter identified as bi (25 per cent – 16% women and 9% men) and a quarter identified as lesbians (24 per cent). Given that adds up to 100% I have to assume there is only trace representation of nonbinary genders.

Gay male employees were the most likely to be out to all colleagues, managers and customers or service users (34 per cent) when compared with lesbians (24 per cent) and bi people (15 per cent). Bi men were also slightly more likely to be out (18 per cent) than bi women (14 per cent) – a notable reversal of some other findings about relative outness in the workplace for bi men and women.

There are still fewer role models at work for bi people. 63% of gay men and 53% of lesbians see high-profile gay men and lesbians in their workplace respectively; for bis that sense of out bi role models drops to 23%. 86% of gay men and 82% of lesbians see their workplace as inclusive of gay men and women respectively; for bis that drops again, to 66%.

Over in the United States the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation, the educational arm of the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) civil rights organisation, released the results of a post-election survey of more than 50,000 people aged 13 to 18.

The stories they tell show the deeply damaging fallout the November election has had on young people across the United States.

“70 percent of respondents have witnessed bullying, hate messages or harassment since the election, with racial bias the most common motive cited,” says HRC. “More than a quarter of LGBTQ youth said they have been personally bullied or harassed since Election Day – compared to 14 percent of non-LGBTQ youth – with transgender young people most frequently targeted.

“Additionally, Hispanic and Latinx respondents were 20 percent more likely than other youth to report having been personally bullied, with harassment targeting both immigrant and nonimmigrant communities.”

One of the issues with hate crime is that we change our behaviour to avoid it and so that massages figures downwards. HRC find “almost half of LGBTQ youth saying they have taken steps to hide who they are by delaying coming out, dressing differently or questioning their plans for the future”
Of course, hate crime is not new, and didn’t start on polling day. So HRC asked about the change as well as the absolute levels.

“We asked about the change in amount of bullying, harassment, and hate messages respondents have seen. Sixty-six percent said they were seeing more of this behavior, including 27 percent who said they were seeing “much more.” So we can say that two-thirds of participants saw the behavior getting worse.”

I thought these statistics were awful and got in touch with HRC who kindly took the time to explore the figures amongst young bi people in their survey responses. They told BCN: “Before Election Day, 51 percent of bisexual, pansexual and queer youth reported they thought about the election every day, greater than the 47 percent of non-LGBTQ youth who did so but less than the 56 percent of gay and lesbian youth who said the same.

“Sixty percent of bisexual, pansexual and queer youth reported feeling nervous most or all of the time during the past 30 days, 43 percent reported frequently feeling hopeless during that period, and 37 percent reported frequently feeling worthless. They were slightly more likely to have these feelings than gay and lesbian youth, among whom 59 percent often felt nervous, 41 percent often felt hopeless, and 32 percent often felt worthless.

“Seventy-eight percent of bisexual, pansexual and queer youth reported witnessing bullying or harassment during or since the 2016 election season, higher than the 61 percent of non-LGBTQ youth who said the same, and marginally higher than the rates gay and lesbian youth reported. Seventy-seven percent of bisexual, pansexual and queer youth reported an increase in these behaviors since the start of the 2016 presidential campaign.

“46% of bisexual, pansexual and queer youth reported having changed something about their self-expression or future plans in light of the 2016 election, higher than the 30 percent of non-LGBTQ youth who said they had, and similar to the 47 percent of gay and lesbian who did so.”

When I was first on the ‘gay scene’ I was told bi people had ‘straight privilege’ and were apolitical as a result. These are depressing figures to at last rebuke those old myths.