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Stonewall launches new secondary school guide to bi inclusion

  • New guide gives teachers an insight into the unique experience of bi people

  • One in three bi pupils (35 per cent) are bullied at school for being LGBT

  • Three in four LGBT pupils (76 per cent) have never learnt about bisexuality

Stonewall, the UK’s leading charity for lesbian, gay, bi and trans equality, has released guidance for secondary schools to help combat bi-erasure and biphobia.

Celebrating Bi Inclusion in Secondary Schools is designed to provide specific insight into the experiences of bi young people in schools and highlight issues that bi people of all ages continue to face.

Bi people are often the forgotten part of the LGBT acronym and can face what is called ‘double discrimination’; not only do they face abuse from straight people, but also from lesbian and gay people.

Research by Stonewall demonstrates why this guide is needed. The Stonewall School Report found that three in four LGBT pupils (76 per cent) have never learnt about bisexuality. It also found that one in three bi pupils (35 per cent) are bullied for being LGBT.

Stonewall’s new resource identifies three key ways in which schools can tackle these problems – training staff; talking about bi issues with students and building an inclusive school environment.

Examples of some of the practical steps covered in the guide include talking points for teachers to increase the understanding of the unique experiences that bi people face, as well as tips on how to interweave bi role models into the curriculum.

Many LGBT young people say that seeing more and more openly LGBT people in the public eye has enabled them to embrace their identity as an LGBT person and feel hopeful about the future.

As one respondent to Stonewall’s School Report said: ‘Every time someone famous comes out as bisexual I feel hopeful that my sexuality will continue to be normalised.’ Antonia, 19 (South West)

Stonewall research reveals lack of visibility has a lasting impact, and the recent LGBT in Britain University study shows that 47 per cent of bi students will hide or disguise their identity when at university, compared to 29 per cent of gay and lesbian students.

Ruth Hunt, Stonewall’s Chief Executive, said: ‘Bi young people don’t often see themselves in schools or in popular culture and this has a serious impact. It can lead to them doubting that what they are feeling is true or normal. It can also lead to them being excluded from important conversations about their health and wellbeing.

‘We know there is a real need for young people to learn more about the issues bi people face. This can help us start to tackle the lack of understanding there is about bisexuality, which in turn will help to stop the damaging bi-erasure and biphobia that young bi people experience.

‘We want all young LGBT to be able to grow up confident about who they are and to have their sexual orientation and gender identity accepted without exception.’

Further quotes from young bi people:

‘I was pushed and taunted for being bisexual, and my best friend was shoved for being gay.’ Hannah, 14, secondary school (Greater London)

‘I always hear my mum and sister talking about how they don’t mind gay people but bisexuals are ‘liars’.' Louise, 15 secondary school (South East)

‘Homophobic language and sexist language is not tolerated, which is great. But I’m bisexual. I find that biphobic remarks are brushed off and aren’t treated anywhere near as seriously as homophobic or sexist remarks. The same goes for transphobic comments.’ Charlotte, 19, now at university (South East)

‘There aren’t many characters in the media who identify as bisexual. Many characters are gay but there needs to be more openly bi characters.’ Ariana, 19, now at university (Yorkshire and the Humber)

‘I feel like I’m being left out on something that is important, and my school isn’t equipping me with the right tools to understand my bisexuality.’ Jessica, 13, single-sex secondary school (South East)

‘I’ve felt as if I knew I was bisexual from the beginning of Year 7 or maybe even earlier. Often I hear people go around gossiping about me and it just brings me down.’ Alex, 12, secondary school (South East)