We need to talk about the realities facing bi students like me. According to GLSEN research, compared to gay and lesbian students, bisexual secondary students report a lower sense of belonging to their school community. In short, being bisexual means it’s especially tough to fit in.
For me, nowhere have I felt more excluded than in my own school's curriculum. In history class, whenever we learn about bisexual historical figures such as Josephine Baker, Walt Whitman, and James Baldwin,
we’re never told about their bisexual identity. Their bi identity is erased, despite what it would mean to me to see myself reflected in my textbooks – and what it would mean if other students learned that people like me have made major contributions to the world.
And it’s even worse in health class, where bisexuality is not acknowledged at all. In my sex ed course, only heterosexual relationships were recognized as valid. We only discussed heterosexual relationships, framed as “traditional,” effectively ignoring a major part of who I am.
Research shows that compared to their heterosexual peers, bisexual youth are more likely to engage in riskier sexual behavior. But I wonder: If bi students actually felt like they belonged in school, if we actually learned about bi identity in history and across the curriculum, would bi students engage in such risky behavior? I bet they wouldn’t.
I hope schools recognize the importance of – and begin to implement – bi-inclusive curriculum. Including conversations about bisexuality in the classroom can help break down biphobia and help bi students feel empowered about their identities and relationships.
To help, GLSEN has resources on supporting bi students, including a video on bi identity and this GSA activity on bisexuality. There’s no better time than now to work to improve the realities facing bi students and make us feel like we belong, too.
Katie Regittko is a member of GLSEN’s National Student Council.