Plan B: New center will provide resources, support for bisexual community | News | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Plan B: New center will provide resources, support for bisexual community

"A lot of people accuse us of being confused, in a derogatory way"

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Indeed, statistics show that bisexuals have a higher rate of suicide attempts than their LGBT peers or straights, and that they experience poorer health and tougher lives in other areas.

The Williams Institute, a UCLA-based think tank focused on gender identity issues, estimates that there are nine million LGBT people in the U.S.; slightly more than half say they are bisexual. But according to the Movement Advancement Project (MAP), bisexuals are also six times more likely than others in the LGBT community to be closeted.

The Pew Charitable Trust's survey of LGBT Americans found that more than 70 percent of gay men and lesbians are out to most of their loved ones and closest friends, while fewer than 30 percent of bisexuals report the same thing, including just 12 percent of bisexual men. And nearly half of bisexuals say they don't feel free enough to be out at work, as compared to 24 percent of gays and lesbians.

This hidden status has apparently led to a disproportionate amount of stress, worse health and higher rates of poverty among bisexuals. MAP found that bisexuals are four times more likely to have attempted suicide than heterosexuals — twice the rate of lesbians and gays. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention's National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, still ongoing, has thus far found that more than half of bisexual women, as opposed to a third of lesbians and a quarter of straight women, have experienced some physical violence in relationships. The same proportions have experienced what the CDC classifies as "severe physical violence," while twice as many bisexual women (20 percent) as straight women have been raped by a partner. The incidence of stalking is also double for bisexual women compared to straight women. These incidents are more than twice as likely to be hate crimes, as classified by law enforcement, than such incidents against other LGBT people.

Bisexuals have higher rates of everything from hypertension, smoking and alcohol abuse to women's cancer. Studies in other countries have even turned up a higher incidence — four times greater — of post-traumatic stress disorder in bisexual women as are in straight women.

In 2010, Funders for LGBTQ Issues, which aims to prompt financial support for gender causes and research, charted the amount of grant money given to specific groups in the LGBT community since 1970. They found that, of the total of more than $487 million, $34 million went specifically to help gay men, $30 million targeted lesbian issues and nearly $17 million aided transgender or gender-nonconforming people — but just over $84,000 went to bisexuals, representing only 19 grants out of 21,794.

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