men and women are those with the capacity for physical, romantic and/or
sexual attraction to more than one sex or gender.
Data from the National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior shows
that approximately 2.6% of adult men and 3.6% of adult
women in the U.S. identify as bisexual. For females, that number is more
than double the number of women who identify as lesbian, 0.9%.
When it comes to adolescents, 1.5% of male adolescents (age 14 to
17) and 8.4% of female adolescents identify as bisexual.
‘While our society has seen marked shifts in more positive attitudes toward homosexuality, a new study suggests that attitudes toward bisexuality have shifted slightly from very negative to neutral.’
While positive attitudes toward gay men and lesbians have increased
over recent decades, a new study led by researchers at IU's Center for
Sexual Health Promotion shows attitudes toward bisexual men and women
are relatively neutral, if not ambivalent.
The study, led by Brian Dodge, associate professor in the Department
of Applied Health Science and associate director of the Center for
Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University's School of Public
Health-Bloomington, was recently published in PLOS ONE
open-access, peer-reviewed online journal. Dodge and his colleagues are
presenting the data today at the Annual Meeting of the American Public
Health Association in Denver, Colorado.
The study is only the second to explore attitudes toward bisexual
men and women in a nationally
representative sample. It is also the first to do so with a sample of
gay, lesbian and other-identified individuals (pansexual, queer and
other identity labels), in addition to those who identify as
heterosexuals. The nationally representative sample was taken from the
Center for Sexual Health Promotion's 2015 National Survey of Sexual
Health and Behavior, one wave of data from an ongoing population-based
survey of adults and adolescents in the U.S.
"While recent data demonstrates dramatic shifts in attitude (from
negative to positive) toward homosexuality, gay/lesbian individuals and
same-sex marriage in the U.S., most of these surveys do not ask about
attitudes toward bisexuality or bisexual individuals," Dodge said. "And
many rely on convenience sampling strategies that are not representative
of the general population of the U.S."
The study looked at five negative connotations, found in previous
studies, associated with bisexual men and women, including the idea that
they are confused or in transition regarding their sexual orientation,
that they are hypersexual and that they are vectors of sexually
The research showed that a majority of male and female respondents,
more than one-third, were most likely to "neither agree nor disagree"
with the attitudinal statements. In regard to bisexual men and women
having the capability to be faithful in a relationship, nearly 40% neither agreed nor disagreed.
Those who identified as "other" had the most positive attitudes
toward bisexuality, followed by gay/lesbian respondents and then
Age played a factor in the results, with participants under the age
of 25 indicating more positive attitudes toward bisexual men and women.
Income and education also played a role: Higher-income participants were
more likely to report more positive attitudes toward bisexual men and
women, in addition to participants with higher levels of education.
Overall, attitudes toward bisexual women were more positive than attitudes toward bisexual men.
"While our society has seen marked shifts in more positive attitudes
toward homosexuality in recent decades, our data suggest that attitudes
toward bisexual men and women have shifted only slightly from very
negative to neutral," Dodge said. "That nearly one-third of participants
reported moderately to extremely negative attitudes toward bisexual
individuals is of great concern given the dramatic health disparities
faced by bisexual men and women in our country, even relative to gay and
Bisexual men and women face a disproportionate rate of physical,
mental and other health disparities in comparison to monosexuals -
those who identify as exclusively heterosexual and exclusively
homosexual, Dodge said. Although research has not determined the cause,
Dodge said that negative attitudes and stigma associated with
bisexuality could play a role.
Dodge said he hopes the results emphasize the need for efforts to
decrease negative stereotypes and increase acceptance of bisexual
individuals as a component of broader initiatives aimed at tolerance of
sexual and gender minority individuals.
"After documenting the absence of positive attitudes toward bisexual
men and women in the general U.S. population, we encourage future
research, intervention and practice opportunities focused on assessing,
understanding and eliminating biphobia - for example, among clinicians
and other service providers - and determining how health disparities
among bisexual men and women can be alleviated," he said.