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HRC's Guide to Stopping Biphobia on the Job

HRC's Guide to Stopping Biphobia on the Job

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In a new report, the Human Rights Campaign offers several 'action steps' to address the discrimination bisexuals report in the workplace.

When you look around the place where you work, remember that there are as many, if not more, bisexuals in America than there are lesbians and gays combined.

That's just one of the important lessons contained in the new brief from the Human Rights Campaign foundation, outlining the unique discrimination bisexuals face at work. That particular statistic is from a 2011 study by the Williams Institute, and in spite of evidence like that, the myth that bisexuality is a phase or doesn't exist is perpetuated, even on the job.

The brief, Bisexual Visibility in the Workplace, notes that bisexuals are less likely than gay men or lesbians to be out where they work, with only 59 percent of bisexual employees out, compared to 79 of gay men, and 77 percent of lesbians.

"Many of America's leading companies continue to adopt meaningful policies, practices and benefits for LGBT people, including non-discrimination policies for sexual orientation and gender identity, and transgender-inclusive healthcare coverage," said Beck Bailey, HRC Foundation's Deputy Director of Employee Engagement.

"But as employers look beyond policy to efforts to improve the day-to-day experiences of LGBT people, the invisibility of bisexual workers deserves their attention," Bailed said. "Despite the significant number of bi-identified employees, they largely remain closeted on the job, and experience less-than-welcoming workplace culture."

HRC's survey Degrees of Equality, a study on how LGBT identities surfaced in work environments, showed that 43 percent of bisexual people reported hearing biphobic jokes at their place of work. That is perhaps an indicator of why many bisexual employees decide to remain in the closet at work.

"A concerted focus on bisexual education and visibility is necessary to reduce bias and create workplaces that allow bisexual workers to be fully themselves at work," Bailey said.

In order for bisexual people to have safer work environments, the brief urges employers to encourage their employees to use inclusive language and address biphobic comments in the workplace. Bisexual Visibility in the Workplace also suggests employee resource groups intentionally create bi inclusive spaces and celebrate bisexual events, like Bisexuality Awareness Week.

For human resource professionals and management, the brief proposes LGBT inclusive policies are in place including support for domestic partners of bisexual couples who are of different genders. Lastly, it is imperative that bi inclusive examples are used in nondiscrimination, anti-bias, and anti-harassment trainings.

The brief was released during Bisexual Awareness Week and one week after HRC's report on bisexual health disparities. Click here to read the full brief.

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