When in it comes to being sexually liberated, San Francisco likes to believe it's been there, done that. So for a city that was a pioneer in offering sex changes as a benefit, it's hard to understand how and why we are failing our bisexual population so badly.
But it's true.
The city's Human Rights Commission released a thick report this month that shows just how biphobic San Francisco is. Despite years of activism, bisexuals continue to be branded as invalid, by both homosexuals and heterosexuals alike, according to the report.
First, how should we define bisexuality? According to the report, anyone who has the capacity for emotional, romantic, and physical attraction to more than one sex or gender -- and would be involved with them is bisexual.
Roughly 3 percent of the nationwide population identifies as bisexual,
yet over the last two years, zero grant dollars went toward programs and services specifically
dedicated to assisting bisexuals.
In short, the needs of bisexuals are being ignored.
"It's certainly groundbreaking," said David Miree, policy analyst for the Human Rights Commission. "This report acknowledged that bisexuality is a definite sexual orientation."
Here are some of the facts:
Believe it or not, bisexuals are more likely to commit suicide than gays and lesbians, and they earn much less than others in the LGBT community. Bisexual women are more than twice as likely as lesbians to live in poverty and bisexuals are much less likely to come out to their doctors, which can affect their preventative health care.
Lindasusan Urlich, who was the principle author of the report, told SF Weekly, that much of this biphobia is institutionalized -- there's no training specific to dealing with bisexuals; as a result, this group tends to get lost in the shuffle. In a panel of LGBT speakers,
for instance, how often is there a bisexual representative?
"A lot of people don't want to be labeled, which makes it hard," she said.
In 1995 after a report on the needs of transgender residents was released, the Board of Supervisors quickly put together a task force that shaped the city and community's response to this population. Urlich is hoping city lawmakers will do the same and find ways to help bisexuals feel a little more welcome.
"I'm an 'out' bisexual living in San Francisco and the impact of invisibility is demoralizing," Urlich said.
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