Bisexual youth have more difficulty finding acceptance than their gay and lesbian peers and face skepticism and harassment when coming out, according to a new study of over 10,000 youth released Tuesday by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation.
Among the study's key findings, bisexual youth surveyed in the report were found to be less happy than their non-LGBT peers, and significantly more bisexual youth said they were frequently harassed than their non-LGBT peers. Additionally, 44% of bisexual youth said they had a supportive family member at home, while 79% of youth who didn't identify as LGBT did, according to the report.
"It hurts deeply when young people are told they are not legitimate, and, unfortunately, that is what many bisexual youth are hearing from their family and friends," Ellen Kahn, director of the HRC Foundation's Children, Youth & Families Program, said in a statement.
The report found that out of the 10,030 youth LGBT ages 13 to 17 surveyed, 40% identified as bisexual, but also found that the bisexual youth felt disconnected and disengaged from the larger LGBT community and are more likely to face sexual harassment, especially bisexual teen girls. Youth surveyed identified as bisexual were "overwhelmingly female," according to the report.
"Bisexual teen girls provided troubling descriptions of sexual harassment, an unfortunate early indicator of just how dangerous stereotyping is to our safety," Faith Cheltenham, president of BiNet USA, said in the statement. "Statistics show that these threats continue for adult bi women, who, during their lifetimes, report alarmingly high rates of rape, physical violence and stalking by an intimate partner."
Additionally, many LGBT youth said they were attracted to more than one gender, but didn't necessarily identity as bisexual, and instead, many described their sexual orientation as pansexual, queer, "fluid," "heteroflexible," among others.
The report goes on to examine biphobia within the LGBT community, which translates to increased harassment and discrimination against bisexual youth among their peers and from adults in their lives like family members and teachers. Recommendations in the report hope to guide gay, lesbian, and transgender peers as well as adults to meet the needs of bisexual youth.
"We have a responsibility to educate ourselves and to open the doors for young bisexual people to live openly, and to thrive," Kahn said. "We adults must step up and change the conversation about bisexuality, and accept and embrace our bisexual youth."
The findings of the report were released on the 15th annual Celebrate Bisexuality Day, according to HRC.