Bisexual workers largely stay closeted at work to avoid discrimination & harassment
Bisexual workers report lower rates of workplace discrimination than cisgender lesbians and gay men, a new study has found, but that may be because fewer cis bisexuals are out at work compared to cis lesbians and gay men.
The Williams Institute – a UCLA’s School of Law group that researches sexual orientation and gender identity issues – analyzed survey data collected in May 2021 from 935 LGBTQ adults in the workforce.
Its analysis found that 33.8 percent of gay and lesbian employees experienced at least one form of employment discrimination, namely, being fired or not hired due to their sexual orientation. Comparatively, 24.4 percent of bi employees reported experiencing the same.
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The lower overall rates of discrimination may be due to the fact that fewer bisexuals are out at work. Only 19 percent of bi workers are out to all their co-workers, compared to 50 percent of gay and lesbian workers who are out to co-workers.
Only 19 percent of bi workers are out to their coworkers, compared to 50 percent of gay and lesbian workers. Similarly, only 36 percent of bi employees are out to their supervisors, compared to 74.6 percent of gay and lesbian employees.
Bi men and women were also more likely than gay and lesbian employees to report changing their workplace appearance to hide their sexual orientation. Approximately 26.4 percent of bi workers said they had done so, compared to 17.9 percent of gay and lesbian workers.
Interestingly, roughly 60 percent of gay, lesbian, and bi employees said they avoided social events and personal discussions to reduce the likelihood of discrimination and harassment. But when bi employees were out to their coworkers, they reported facing similar or higher rates of discrimination and harassment as out gay and lesbian workers.
The survey also found that gay and bi men typically faced higher rates of employment discrimination, verbal, and sexual harassment than lesbians and bisexual women.
For example, 57.7 percent of bi men experienced verbal harassment, compared to 26.8 percent of bisexual women. While 41.6 percent of gay men experienced verbal harassment, only 29.5 percent of lesbians experienced the same thing. Nearly 50 to 65 percent of all discrimination was religiously motivated, the respondents said.
Workplace sexual harassment was experienced by 34.8 percent of bi men, 33.6 percent of gay men, 29.2 percent of bi women, and 17.4 percent of lesbian women. While 58 percent of out bi men said they had left previous jobs due to workplace discrimination, only 27 percent of out bi women had left previous jobs for the same reason.
These findings came out just before Celebrate Bisexuality Day, an annual day for uplifting the bisexual community, individuals, and their shared history. Today is Celebrate Bisexuality Day.
A 2021 Gallup found that 57 percent of LGBTQ Americans identify as bisexual.