Bi the way…It’s Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

September is a month of many health observances: Whole Grains Month, World Alzheimer’s Month, and National Preparedness Month, to name a few. But there is one observance that is of particular and critical importance to the bisexual+ community.

It’s National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.

Research conducted over the past decade on the bi+ community’s mental health disparities has been undeniable. Bisexual men and women have overall higher rates of depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders compared to their gay and straight counterparts. Suicidality and suicide attempts among bisexuals are also at higher rates. One study of more than 13,000 middle and high school students found that 44% of bisexual youth reported thinking about suicide in the past 30 days, compared to 7% of straight youth and 23% of LGBTQ youth in general. Another study found that among bisexual youth who reported suicidal thoughts, these thoughts did not decrease as they reached adulthood, yet these suicidal thoughts did decrease among their gay and straight peers.

Experiences of biphobia and bi+ erasure both within and outside the LGBTQ+ community contribute to mental health disparities and suicidality in the bi+ community. There are also intersectional experiences of transphobia, racism, ableism, and ageism that compound these disparities. Bisexual+ individuals navigate through various levels of prejudice and stigma on a daily basis; these stressors can often in turn lead to mental distress, isolation, and desperation. And when bi+ folks do reach out for support and resources, they sometimes experience discrimination from the very organizations and providers that are supposed to be a lifeline for them.

Therefore, it’s important to strengthen bisexual-specific mental health services and resources. These spaces should also be inclusive of a bisexual+ person’s intersecting identities as well as easily accessible or affordable. Fortunately, there are several organizations and resources already available to help bi+ community members in need:

There’s help. There’s hope. So reach out today.

Building Bi-Inclusive Community Spaces

Work to rethink the way we use labels!

On the last day of our campaign’s Action Week, Bisexual Health Awareness Month focuses on community-based action steps that can best support bisexual+ youth.

In one report, bisexual+ youth were less likely to be out to their families, friends, and communities, and only 4% of pansexual youth reported feeling like they “definitely fit in” with their community. In addition, bisexual youth are less likely of having attended a queer youth group compared to their gay and lesbian peers. Therefore, it is critical for community centers and places of worship to provide bisexual-specific and -inclusive spaces for bisexual+ youth.

Some action steps for these community centers and places of worship to build upon their bisexual+ inclusivity include:

  • Implementing bisexual-specific programs, services, and resources; Often bi+ people avoid LGBTQ+ spaces if they don’t see themselves truly represented!
  • Bisexual+ individuals often experience biphobia, transphobia, racism, ageism, and/or ableism, so organizations must work towards creating safer and more inclusive spaces; Supporting bisexual+ youth and their intersecting identities is critical in improving their overall health and well-being
  • Filling your LGBTQ+ resource library or suggested reading list with bisexual+ literature; Great listings of bi+ books can be found here and here
  • Connecting bisexual+ youth with their community; Bi-specific groups are listed here and here, and a listing of LGBTQ+ religious groups can be found here
  • Working towards addressing LGBTQ+ issues in the criminal justice system, particularly for transgender* youth and youth of color who often experience oppression, unfair treatment, and discrimination; A recent report by the Movement Advancement Project provides various recommendations and resources for fixing this broken system

What else can we do to support and care for bisexual+ youth in our communities? Let us know in the comments!

Caring for Bisexual+ Homeless Youth

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Today Bisexual Health Awareness Month provides action steps for homeless shelters and social service providers working with bisexual+ youth

A higher percentage of bisexual students reported running away from home one or more times compared to their gay and straight peers. In addition, more bisexual youth stated they were homeless because of physical abuse by parents than their straight and gay peers. Gay, lesbian, and bisexual homeless youth also have greater HIV risks and these risks are greater among bisexual female youth. Therefore, stronger policies are needed to provide bisexual+ youth with safe environments to live that are off the streets.

Bisexual+ youth who are homeless or at risk for homelessness also need:

  • Additional education- and community-based support systems, such as affordable housing,  job training, and college prep programs
  • Social service providers who understand and can address all their unique needs and intersections
  • More LGBTQ-specific homeless shelters, like the Thrive Youth Center in Texas
  • Programs and services that can care for their sexual, physical, and mental health and wellbeing
  • For those at particular risk for HIV, comprehensive sex education, needle exchange programs, and PrEP distribution

Work to end homelessness for bisexual+ youth today! Get involved with the National Alliance to End Homelessness here.

Supporting Bisexual+ Youth in School

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Today Bisexual Health Awareness Month highlights ways to support and protect bisexual+ youth at school.

A recent report found that 37% of gender-expansive youth are verbally harassed at school, and another report found that 44% of bisexual youth were bullied about their weight or physical appearance one or more times during the past month. In addition, a report by the GSA Network chronicles harsh discipline and school push-out often faced by LGBT youth of color. Therefore, it is important to build safer, more inclusive and accepting environments for bisexual+ (e.g. bisexual, pansexual, queer, fluid, no label) youth in schools.

A report by the Human Rights Campaign provides several recommendations on how to better support bisexual+ youth in schools:

  • Use bisexual-inclusive language when talking to youth about bullying and harassment
  • Be an ally to bi+ youth by calling out biphobia and stereotypes about bisexuality when you see it
  • Be inclusive of bi+ youth in programs and resources. Listen to them and their stories, and use terms like LGBTQ+ whenever possible
  • Invite bi+ leaders to speak at LGBTQ+ events so that bi+ youth can see themselves represented

Other tips and steps include:

  • Call out all forms of discrimination and oppression in schools and classrooms – biphobia, transphobia, racism, ableism – that affect bi+ youth
  • Implement stronger policies in schools that protect bisexual+ youth of color from harassment and discriminatory discipline
  • Learn about issues affecting the bisexual+ community in order to effectively address the needs of bi+ youth

What do you think we can do to improve the health, safety and wellbeing of bisexual+ youth at school? Let us know in the comments!

Boosting Bisexual+ Competency for Healthcare Providers

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Today Bisexual Health Awareness Month provides action steps for healthcare professionals who treat youth in order to boost their bisexual+ competency.

Bisexual youth are less likely than gay and lesbian youth to disclose to their physician about their sexuality. Therefore, there are many ways that healthcare providers can better care for their bisexual+ (e.g. bisexual, pansexual, queer, fluid, no label) clients — Because our health matters too!

A report by the National LGBTQ Task Force provided several tips to healthcare providers who treat bisexual individuals, including:

  • Not making assumptions when working with bisexual clients; Treat us as individuals, not stereotypes!
  • Supporting and validating people’s diverse experiences and identities; Listen to bisexuals and what we need
  • Knowing that a person’s sexual behavior and sexual orientation are two different things
  • Including “bisexual” when talking to clients about sexual orientation; It’s not just gay and lesbian!

Other tips and action steps you can follow as a healthcare professional are:

  • Recognizing that sexual orientation can be complex. Learn more about this particular area with the Klein Grid
  • Having bisexual+ materials in your waiting area, like our brochure about mental health in the bi+ community
  • Knowing that your bisexual+ clients are not just impacted by biphobia; They also experience other forms of discrimination such as transphobia, racism, ageism, and ableism that significantly impact their health
  • Making your medical practice more welcoming and inclusive by displaying information about bisexuality+
  • Connecting your bi+ clients with their community; Bi+ groups are listed via BRC and BiNet USA
  • Learning more about bisexual+ health issues with these reports and materials and brushing up on your Bi 101 with this bisexual issues presentation
  • Becoming listed as a bisexual-aware health practitioner on the BiZone Directory

Today’s Featured Resources: E. shares their experiences with therapists in hopes more will become bisexual+ competent. And, for Bi Health Month this year, Samati Niyomchai shares his experiences with his doctor, which are more exception than rule.

How do you think health providers can better care for bi+ youth? Leave your thoughts and ideas in the comments!

Supporting Bisexual+ Youth at Home

bi ally

This week Bisexual Health Awareness Month focuses on action steps at home, in school, and within communities for better supporting bisexual+ youth. Today’s post provides tips for parents and guardians!

With low coming out rates, bisexual+ (e.g. bisexual, pansexual, queer, no label) youth need more support and affirmation, starting at home from parents, guardians, and family members. Bisexual adolescents in particular report less family and school connectedness than their straight peers.

Are you a parent or guardian of a bisexual+ youth? Two reports by the Human Rights Campaign provide several recommendations for caring for bisexual+ and gender-expansive youth:

  • Talk to your children about being LGBQ+ and tell them you will support them no matter their sexual orientation
  • If your child comes out to you as bisexual+, reach out to relevant organizations and support groups to learn more
  • Read as much as you can about gender and connect with organizations, support groups, and online forums for resources
  • Insist that others around your gender-expansive child are respectful and affirming

Other tips and places to start include:

What other advice do you have for parents or guardians of bisexual+ youth? Leave them in the comments below!

Mental Health Resources

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Photo by Lauren Sageer

On the last day of this week, Bisexual Health Awareness Month promotes mental health resources for bisexual+ youth.

Bisexual+ (e.g. bisexual, pansexual, fluid, queer, no label) youth often experience higher levels of mental health issues than their gay and straight peers, including suicidality, substance use disorders, depression, and anxiety. Therefore, it is important to connect these youth with bisexual-specific and -inclusive resources, programs, and services that can best serve their mental health needs.

Today’s Featured Resources:

There’s help. There’s hope. So reach out today!