Bisexuals get their due – San Francisco Human Rights Commission adopts groundbreaking report on bisexual invisibility

Report examines how bisexual invisibility results in wide range consequences including disparities in health and quality of life issues, rates of suicidality and fewer targeted services. Study highlights several recommendations for creating more visibility for bisexuals and bisexual issues in the City and County of San Francisco

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The San Francisco Human Rights Commission (HRC) recently adopted and released its groundbreaking report that explores Bisexual Invisibility: Impacts and Recommendations. The report released on March 10, 2011, is the first of its kind to explore bisexuality as it relates to advancing greater acceptance and awareness of the existence of bisexuality in our society and culture.

Examining statistical data, historical perspectives, surveys, defining language, and personal accounts (referred to as Side Bars), the report notes that despite years of activism, often the entire sexual orientation is branded as invalid, immoral, or irrelevant resulting in the needs of bisexuals still going unaddressed and their very existence still called into question.

The reports explores the serious consequences of bisexual invisibility and the impact this exclusion has on bisexuals’ health, including mental health and HIV and STI prevention, high rates of suicidality, economic well-being, and quality of life issues as well as calls for greater cultural and ethnic competency and funding for bi organizations and programs.

The study defines bisexuality to include the capacity for emotional, romantic, and/or physical attraction to more than one sex or gender and the potential for, but not requirement of, involvement with more than one sex/gender. Referred to as an “invisible majority” in the LGBT community, the reports states that Bisexuals experience high rates of being ignored, being discriminated against, demonized, or rendered invisible by both the heterosexual world and the lesbian and gay communities.

Theresa Sparks, Executive Director of the HRC called the report “an excellent first step in fostering greater public awareness and acceptance of the Bisexual community.”

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Theresa Sparks

“This report reflects San Francisco ’s continued dedication toward being on the cutting edge and will go a long way toward changing the perceptions of bisexuality not just as a phase but one of a stable sexual orientation in itself.”

Michael Sweet, Commission Chair for the HRC stated, “ San Francisco is once again leading by example and this groundbreaking study will undoubtedly have a positive impact on the discussion regarding the undeniable presence of the bisexual community in our society.”

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Michael Sweet

Cecilia Chung, HRC Commissioner and Co-Chair of the LGBT Advisory Committee noted, “San Francisco has a long-standing history of tolerance, acceptance, and inclusion; not only does this report advance these values for which our City is world renowned, but it also demonstrates how we take action to ensure there is real meaning to the word ‘diversity’.”

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Cecilia Chung

THE MYTHS AND THE MEDICAL TRUTHS

The LGBT Advisory Committee, one of three advisory committees that assist the Commission, put forth several recommendations for creating more visibility for

Bisexuals and bisexual issues in the City and County of San Francisco including the following:

•Educate the public, city departments, and elected officials about inclusive language (for example, “anti-LGBT bias” rather than “homophobia”) and ensure its use whenever possible and accurate.

•Review the STI (Sexually Transmitted Infections) brochures offered through San Francisco ’s Department of Public Health.

•Work with the Department of Public Health to ensure that data collection addresses the experiences of bisexuals accurately and consistently.

•Share this report and the results of the survey of local nonprofits on what bi-specific programming they have, if any; whether their programs that say they serve bisexuals are welcoming in practice; and how the content of their programming changes to address the needs of bisexuals.

•Include specific, separate information on bisexuality in diversity trainings.

•Ensure that bisexuals are included among the speakers when there are panels, forums, and other official discussions affecting the LGBT community.

The Commission is grateful to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute for permission to use excerpts from Bisexual Health: An introduction and model practices for HIV/STI prevention programming in this report.

The San Francisco Human Rights Commission works to provide leadership and advocacy to secure, protect and promote human rights for all people. The Human Rights Commission was established in 1964 by City Ordinance and became a Charter Commission in 1990.

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