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!

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Resources for Building Safer Spaces

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Photo by Lauren Sageer

Today Bisexual Health Awareness Month aims to provide resources on building safer, more inclusive spaces for bisexual+ youth!

Unfortunately, bisexual+ youth are often told that their sexual identities “don’t exist” or are “just a phase.” This biphobia and bisexual erasure causes a lot of harm, distress, and invalidation. Therefore, it’s important to recognize and address biphobia and bisexual erasure (in addition to other forms of discrimination and oppression, including transphobia, racism, and ableism) in schools, communities, and homes to improve the health of bisexual+ youth.

Today’s Featured Resources:

Biphobia

Creating Bi-inclusive Spaces

For Families

Allyship

Bullying and Interpersonal Violence Resources

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Today’s Bisexual Health Awareness Month focus is on bullying and interpersonal violence resources for bisexual+ youth.

In one study, 44% bisexual youth reported being bullied about physical appearance one or more times during past month, and a report by the Human Rights Campaign found that 37% of gender-expansive youth were verbally harassed at school. In addition, bisexuality was associated with a history of forced or unwanted sex among female high school students, and compared with gay male youth, bisexual male youth were 5.4 times as likely to have been threatened with outing by a date or partner. Therefore, it is important to build safer, more inclusive school environments for bisexual+ youth, and to connect these youth with interpersonal violence services, resources, and prevention programs that can support and protect them.

Today’s Featured Resources:

Bullying

Sexual Violence

Intimate Partner Violence

Sexual Health Resources

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Photo by Lauren Sageer

Get connected! Today Bisexual Health Awareness Month focuses on sexual health resources, information, and services for bisexual youth+.

Among female youth, bisexuality was found to be associated with unprotected intercourse during their last sexual encounter. Young men of color (ages 15-22) who have sex with men are at disproportionate risk of acquiring HIV, and gay, lesbian, and bisexual homeless youth have greater HIV risks and these risks are greater among bisexual female youth. Therefore, bisexual+ (e.g. bisexual, pansexual, queer, fluid, no label) youth are in critical need of programs, services, and resources that can improve their sexual health.

Today’s Featured Resources:

Story by Anonymous

These stories and poems by bisexual+ youth were collected by Bisexual Women of Color (BIWOC), a Bisexual Health Awareness Month campaign partner. BIWOC is an organization whose mission is to provide emotional support, resources, community, and a safe space to discuss intersectional issues that affect bi women of color. They welcome all with multi-gender attractions, including but not limited to: bisexual, biromantic, pansexual, queer, fluid, and questioning.

Sometimes I think it would have been easier for my mother to understand if I had been “only” a lesbian.  It would have likely taken her even longer to understand and come to terms with, but maybe she wouldn’t keep holding onto some kind of fragment of hope that I’d be straight for so long.  That if I just meet the right guy I’ll forget all this talk, that if she just holds on for long enough I’ll marry a nice straight man and that this will all be settled.

To her credit, my mother once said nearly as much to me over some (several glasses of) wine. She asked me if she was a bad person for hoping I’d marry a man eventually.  My mother and I have had a great relationship most of my life, so how could I possibly tell someone who has supported me since I was born that they were a bad person?  So I told her she wasn’t, but I tried to impress upon her that she would need to come to terms with the fact that that day might not ever come. And that even if it did, it wouldn’t change my bisexuality.

I’ve tried to give her time.  Some days we go forward, and some days we go back. One day she consciously makes sure to reference my possible future “partner” when idly discussing marriage or dating or kids, and a week later she purses her lips when I talk about a nice girl I met on a dating site.  She says she’s not ready for PFLAG, and to be honest, I’m not sure I mind too much, because I have no idea what the parents in the local chapter would tell her about bisexuality, considering what many of the people in our community at large themselves have to say about bi, pan, poly, and otherwise identifying people.

A couple months ago I had my first yearly checkup with my new doctor, since I’ve finally, begrudgingly, aged out of my pediatrician’s office.  My doctor asked me, while approaching a conversation about my sexual health, if I had a boyfriend.  I’m wasn’t, and still currently am not, in a relationship of any kind.  I said “no” before I could really let myself think about saying, “Actually, I’m bisexual, but no, I’m not dating anyone.”  My doctor is very sweet and likely would take this new knowledge perfectly well, and yet I didn’t.  Perhaps less out of reluctance, and more out of the time I needed to contemplate if I had the energy to delve into the subject and consequently deal with any possible negative reactions, confusion, or microaggressions.  And it’s sobering to think about how I even have to consider all that before answering.  In terms of my actual physical and sexual health, though, it wouldn’t have changed anything because, for that matter, I’ve never had sex.  In fact, I’ve never dated anyone.

That’s not for lack of trying, of course.  I don’t mind being the one to ask someone out, but at this moment in time, nothing has panned out for me in that department.  I’ve always viewed that as a succinct refutation of the arguments that anyone needs to date, have sex, nurture crushes, or take part in any kind of “qualifying” act to know confidently what their orientation is.  If you don’t know, then that’s awesome, too!  But don’t let anyone tell you it’s just because you haven’t done x, y, or z.  Some people, mostly online entities, have proclaimed that such a status simply means I can’t possibly know how I identify yet.  They echo the former (white, straight, cis male) friend who demanded to know if I could imagine kissing, marrying, and having sex with a woman the first time I ever mentioned thinking I could be bisexual, and then accused me of doing it as a fad when I admitted I couldn’t necessarily imagine all that.  I couldn’t imagine having sex with or marrying anyone right then, though.  Those sentiments even echoed my own some days.

But I am bisexual.  My bisexuality is now a distinct and acknowledged – no, a celebrated – part of me.  And I know myself.  I know myself just fine, especially considering that I’ve had plenty of time to myself, with myself (and no one else) to figure that out.

Coming Out and Bisexual Community Resources

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Photo by Lauren Sageer

Coming out and bisexual community resources are the focus of Bisexual Health Awareness Month today. Bisexual+ youth, know that you have a community that cares!

Bisexual+ youth are less likely to be out to their families, friends, and communities, and they are often told that their sexual identities are “just a phase” or “don’t exist.” They are also less likely of having attended a queer youth group compared to their gay and lesbian peers. Therefore, building bi-inclusive and bi-affirming environments at home, in schools, and within communities is important in improving the health and well-being of bisexual+ youth.

Today’s Featured Resources:

Coming Out

Bisexual-specific Organizations & Groups

General LGBT Organizations & Information

Leo, age 12: I’m 12 years old and i came out to my friends last year. I came out to my mom too but she said she didn’t believe me and told me, “People come out with their sexuality when they’re 18 or older.” My friends took it really well, even my most seemingly homophobic friend.

Bisexual+ Day of Remembrance

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Today, on March 11, 2016, Bisexual Health Awareness Month remembers all those bisexual+ youth who have died by suicide or violence.

Bisexual+ (e.g. bisexual, pansexual, fluid, queer, no label) youth experience higher levels of suicidality than their gay, lesbian, and straight peers. One study found that bisexual teens are at the highest risk of bullying, truancy, and suicide, while another study found that 22% of bisexual youth attempted suicide over the past year compared to 20% of gay/lesbian and 4% of straight youth. Additionally, it may not “get better” for bisexual+ youth when it comes to suicidal thoughts and attempts.

Sadly, the bisexual+ community has lost too many of its youth to violence and suicide, including:

  • Juan Ceballos, a bisexual college student, who was allegedly killed by his coworker in an apparent hate crime.
  • Nick Hawkins, a bisexual teen, was killed last month, and police have arrested six individuals in connection with his murder.
  • Alyssa Morgan, a bisexual youth who was experiencing depression and bullying, died by suicide last year.
  • Adam Kizer, a bisexual teen, was taken off life support and died following a suicide attempt.

Today we remember all bisexual+ youth who have been lost, and we honor them. Rest in peace and power.

Building inclusive, safe environments (that address biphobia, racism, transphobia, and ableism) in schools and communities can improve the well-being of bisexual+ youth drastically. Bisexual-specific mental health prevention and treatment services are also needed to improve the mental health of bisexual+ youth. After all, bisexual+ youth are worth affirming and protecting!

If you are a bisexual+ youth who is experiencing suicidal thoughts, there are many organizations out there to help and support you:

  • The Trevor Project Hotline at 1-866-488-7386
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255
  • GLBT National Talkline at 1-800-246-7743
  • Trans Lifeline at 877-565-8860 (US) or at 877-330-6366 (Canada)

Bisexual+ Youth who are Homeless or of Low Income

Today Bisexual Health Awareness Month spotlights bisexual+ youth who are of low income or are homeless. These youth typically go without programs, services, and resources that can ensure their well-being — both academically and health-wise.

Bisexual+ youth are often impacted by poverty through an intersectional lens of biphobia, transphobia, racism, and/or ableism. Several reports and research studies have found that:

Additionally, a homeless report by The Williams Institute showed that LGBT youth make up 40% of clientele served by agencies. In the same study cited above, a higher percentage of bisexual students reported running away from home one or more times over the past year compared to their gay/lesbian and straight counterparts. In another study, more bisexual homeless youth reported someone tried to touch them sexually before age 12, and more bisexual youth stated they were homeless because of physical abuse by parents than their straight and gay/lesbian peers. Gay, lesbian, and bisexual homeless youth also have greater HIV risks, but these risks are greater among bisexual female youth.

Stronger policies are needed to provide bisexual+ youth with safe environments to live in that are off the streets. Bisexual+ homeless youth are also in desperate need of programs and services that can care for their sexual and mental health; More LGBTQ-specific homeless shelters in particular are needed for these youth, like the Thrive Youth Center in San Antonio, Texas.

Today’s Featured Resource: The #PowerON campaign by The Trevor Project helps get refurbished laptops donated to underserved LGBTQ youth! Also, today is Women & Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day — and the #BestDefense is a good offense for bisexual+ youth!

Bisexual+ Youth With Disabilities

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Today Bisexual Health Awareness Month focuses on bisexual+ youth with disabilities and community resources they can connect with.

Individuals with disabilities often experience ableism when seeking employment, healthcare services, and support programs. Little is known about the specific needs and experiences of bisexual+ youth with disabilities, but several research studies and reports have uncovered the following information:

  • One study found that the prevalence of disability was higher among lesbian, gay, and bisexual adults compared with their straight counterparts. This same study found that 36% of bisexual women and 40% of bisexual men reported having a disability, with elevated reports of poor physical health and mental distress.
  • A New Mexico Department of Health report found that bisexuals were more likely to have a disability than their straight peers.
  • I Just Want to Be Myself,” a qualitative study of LGBT youth with disabilities, focused on themes of individual identity development and intersectional identities and school experiences.

More research and focus is needed on bisexual+ youth with disabilities, including policies and services that can address their unique needs and challenges. If you are a bisexual+ youth with a disability, know that there are several organizations, resources, and networks available to support you:

Today’s Featured Resources: Aud Traher writes “On Being a Disabled Bi Trans Person and the Idea of Passing.” Also, work to be a better ally to bisexual+ youth with disabilities by following these steps in your community, and aim to build more supportive, inclusive spaces in schools for bisexual+ youth with disabilities through these tips from GLSEN.

Story by gaby

These stories and poems by bisexual+ youth were collected by Bisexual Women of Color (BIWOC), a Bisexual Health Awareness Month (BHAM) campaign partner. BIWOC is an organization whose mission is to provide emotional support, resources, community, and a safe space to discuss intersectional issues that affect bi women of color. They welcome all with multi-gender attractions, including but not limited to: bisexual, biromantic, pansexual, queer, fluid, and questioning.

gaby
age 16
bisexual / polysexual
cisgender girl
black
england

It was when I was 14 that I started to identify as bi; before then, I identified as straight instead. The thing is, the more I look back on those years—the years before I ID’d as bi, the more I’m convinced that I knew somehow that I wasn’t exclusively into guys.

I had a big crush on a guy when I was about 10 to 11. It was my first ever crush, and so I was really excited about all the new feelings washing over me. In some ways, I definitely had my own insecurities about crushing on him. It’s obvious to me now that the societal expectations of relationships I was then aware of had already shaped who I felt like I should’ve been into. The guy I was crushing on, Cam*, was shorter than me. Right now, height is not a concern to me at all. Sadly, however, 10-year-old me felt differently about that. I was worried that people would think we wouldn’t suit simply because of how our heights differed. I probably would’ve denied it then if you were to ask but I was really bothered about those sort of things at that age.

So you can imagine just how disconcerted I was when I began questioning my very own sexual orientation. At first, I didn’t want to give those sorta thoughts a time of day. “I’m into Cam,”  I would remind myself before dismissing any idea of not being straight.

I have a very strong Christian background—the kind that is tainted with homophobia. Until recently, I would go to church every Sunday and attend to God’s word. I don’t share my parent’s beliefs, and I don’t think I ever have in my life. I’ve always struggled to have a faith in God. I used to pray all the time, hoping that I could finally become a true believer and avoid going to hell. Having a fear of god is the one thing I can be certain I’ve never had difficulty with. From what I was taught about God, pleasing Him was very important and the idea of me possibly liking girls wouldn’t please Him at all.

As I got older, I ended up distancing myself from Christianity. I realised it wasn’t for me. Doing so was a struggle, and it still is. My mum bases all her values and beliefs on the Bible. She navigates through the world with the conviction that her connection to God will rightfully bring her to heaven one day, and has raised me to do the same. Sometimes I become overwhelmed with the feeling of being a disappointment. I wish I could make her proud by following her steps but I know I have my own path to explore (as cheesy as that sounds). It was certainly scary for me to start going on that path. I didn’t have the comfort of knowing I would be safe, given no promises of guardian angels in my way.

Right now, I’m really glad that I started learning how to be independent and unapologetic. I’ve become willing to embrace the complexity that is me, and now I can truly do the same with other people, too. I’ve become strong, and I’m only getting stronger everyday. I think I have got to be strong, considering that my existence irks more people than it should. It has taken time for me to accept that being a dark-skinned, black, bi gal is great.

Seeing a lack of representation of people like me in mainstream media has made the process of loving myself a lot harder than it should be. What has helped me do so anyway, besides actively seeking out that representation (in blogs, mags like Rookie, and web series like Sidetrack), was by making a blogger and writing down how I feel and what’s going on currently in my life. My blogger offers me the ability to see how much I’ve grown alongside the ever-changing world I’m living in. It can be incredibly hard to want to live some days when I feel like the uglier side of history is repeating itself in its own ways.

But when I think to myself about how phenomenal I can be?

How much effort and power it must’ve taken me to transform how I perceive myself and begin to revere the roots from which hair grows to the roots my sweet Ghanaian mother loves to speak of. With a big heart, I just smile and remember ‘with time’.