According to a new report from Stonewall UK, a third of bisexual students (35%) say they experience bullying at school because of their sexuality.
In the report, Celebrating Bi Inclusion in Secondary Schools, Stonewall addresses ‘three key ways’ schools can ‘better build an inclusive environment’ for bisexual students.
In 2016, an Office of National Statistics survey revealed 1.8% of 16 to 24-year-olds said they identified as bisexual. This compares to 1.5% choosing gay or lesbian. Furthermore, in a 2015 YouGov poll, 43% of 18 to 24-year-old respondents said they identified as something other than ‘100% homosexual’ or ‘100% heterosexual’.
As the report explains: ‘The specific experiences of bi young people are often overlooked or assumed to be exactly the same as gay and lesbian young people.’
Stonewall previously explored this exact thing in their report of LGBTQ people in the workplace. They found that more bisexual people are in the closet at work than lesbian or gay people.
Discrimination from both sides
Statistics for bisexual students are alarming.
35% experience bullying at school, as stated previously.
Bi students are also less likely to have an adult they can talk to at home. 37% report having someone, compared to 46% of gay and lesbian students.
Finally, those who identify as bi (or pansexual or queer) are more likely to deliberately harm themselves. 67% and 79%, respectively, report this compared to 59% of gay and lesbian youth.
What makes this all the more worse is that bisexual students face discrimination from both the straight and LGBTQ communities.
Sian, a 13-year-old student in Wales said: ‘I’ve been shouted at and talked about on multiple occasions because of my sexuality and I’ve heard remarks such as “bisexuals are more likely to cheat, I’d never date a bi woman or man”. A few people who are openly gay have said things like “as a lesbian, I would never want to do anything with a bisexual woman.”‘
Three responses to help bi students
Stonewall outlines three ways schools can help their bisexual students:
- Educating and training staff
- Tackling biphobia directly with students
- Improving bi visibility within the curriculum and wider school life
Some of the specific examples include acknowledging Bi Visibility Day. Another is making sure all discourse (pamphlets, etc.) represents bisexuality alongside gay, lesbian, and trans identities.