US survey suggests fewer people are bi

Figures published by the USA’s Center for Disease Control suggest less than 3 percent of the U.S. population identifies as gay, lesbian or bisexual. An additional 1.1 percent didn’t know how to answer the question, had another identity than gay, straight or bi, or refused to answer.

0.7% were recorded as bisexual while 1.6% identified as lesbian or gay.

However, it’s hard to imagine every bi or every LGB person would have been comfortable openly labelling their sexual orientation to a stranger – having grown up in a culture where being bi or gay can be strongly stigmatised.

A UK study in 2010 by the Office for National Statistics suggested 0.5% of the population were bisexual, 1% lesbian or gay, and another fraction of a percent had other non-straight identities such as queer and asexual or consciously avoiding a label.

The UK study suffered a similar problem in obtaining identity information – but was carried out on a much bigger sample size. The US survey covered some 33,000 people whereas the ONS study interviewed 450,000 people.

Read the CDC report here.

Volunteers’ Week comes to an end

Volunteer week 2014Over the past week, hundreds of events have been held across the country to say thank you to volunteers, recognising the important contribution they make.

Almost all the bi community events, groups and support depend wholly on volunteer effort – so it has also been a prompt for many to say thanks to the people who make them happen, and for some to step up and offer to share the workload.

Maybe now’s the time to become a bi volunteer yourself?

BCN magazine has an article in its archives with lots of ideas of ways you can get involved in bi volunteering – whether you have ten minutes to spare just now, a day every week, or anything in between.

Bi students less likely to be ‘out’

NUS LGBT Report 2014A new report by the National Union of Students reports on life for bisexual, transgender, lesbian and gay students today.

While it is often ‘lumpy’ in its treatment of data – combining bisexual, lesbian and gay experience into one – the report does have some findings on bi experience. For example:

“Only 40 per cent of bisexual respondents are out to their family, compared to 72.5 per cent of gay and 77 per cent of lesbian respondents; 82 per cent are out to their friends, compared to 96 per cent of gay and lesbian respondents; and slightly more than one in 10 bisexual students are out to academic staff, compared to 40 per cent of gay and a third of lesbian respondents.”

This ties in with other research over the last few years which has shown bi workers are less likely to feel they can be open about their orientation in the workplace than gay and lesbian staff.

Bi students are also more likely to have considered dropping out of university courses than gay or straight students, and are to feel less able to speak up during classes or to be welcomed as a participant in group activities than their lesbian or gay peers.

However the report’s recommendations are disappointing, urging action by universities and student unions only on homophobia and transphobia.

You can read it in full here.

Tackling biphobia in schools: project gets started

The National Centre for Social Research has been awarded a contract to take forward the first stage of a project to help drive out homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying in schools.

The project, which we reported last November, seeks to understand the most effective ways to reduce these types of bullying and their impacts among school-age children and young people.

The first phase of the project is a full review of all the available evidence and existing practices currently in place in schools to tackle this issue. Organisations were invited to bid for funding to conduct this work, and NatCen was the successful bidder. This work is now under way and NatCen will report back in the summer.

A recent Youth Chances survey showed that nearly half (49%) of LGBT young people questioned reported that their time at school was affected by discrimination or fear of discrimination.

Jenny Willott MPMinister for Women and Equalities Jenny Willott MP, said:

“Homophobic, biphobic and transphobic taunts and teasing in the school playground may seem harmless but it can seriously affect children’s health and well-being, lead to poor educational performance and prevent them getting ahead in life.

“Young people should be able to go to school without fear of bullying or discrimination. We expect schools to take a strong stand against all forms of bullying and to deal with incidents quickly when they occur.

“This project will help us to understand all the issues, what works best in tackling this type of bullying, and to develop effective, evidence-based tools and best practice that will help schools and others to stamp out this harmful behaviour.”

Michelle Gray, Project Research Director at NatCen, said:

“We are delighted to be carrying out this important and well needed piece of research and have put together a team who fully understand and have experience in the areas of equalities and LGBT research. We have designed a mixed methods programme of work which we hope will really get to the bottom of what works and why to eventually help all of those working with children and young people to eradicate homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying.”

The project builds on action the government has already taken to tackle bullying in schools including publishing updated advice and guidance for schools and governing bodies; and giving schools greater legal powers to tackle bad behaviour and cyber-bullying.

70% endorse same-sex marriage

Another step along the wayParliaments have already made the decision for Scotland, Wales and England, but a new Ipsos-MORI survey of public opinion shows the debate has brought the people with it – with a majority backing across the political spectrum for same-sex marriage.

No surprise that three in four Liberal Democrat and Labour voters back the measure, perhaps, but support among Conservative voters runs at 61% and even staunchly anti- same-sex marriage party UKIP is out of step with its voters, 54% of whom back its introduction.

The more marked divide is on age: 88 per cent of 18 to 34 year-olds surveyed said same-sex couples should be free to marry, while this falls to 43 per cent of those aged over 65.

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