Sunday, July 1, 2012

Bisexuality Gets Visible in Health Care

Series of studies aimed at improving health care for bisexual-identified men and women

by Hunter Riley for Self Serve Sexuality Resource Center

The bisexual flag at  San Francisco Pride in 2009. Via Wikimedia

People who identify as bisexual can sometimes face stigmas and misinformation in daily life. In an effort to increase the quality of health care and understanding for individuals who identify as bisexual, researchers from Indiana University did a series of studies to investigate how stereotypes of bisexuals compares with reality, according to a report from the Windy City Media Group.

Vanessa Schick, assistant research scientist at the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at IU in Bloomington and her team surveyed 4,000 women and used the data to examine the diversity of sexual behaviors between women.

"I want, ideally, medical practitioners and clinicians to consider the diversity in their sexual repertoires when asking women whether they've engaged in sexual behavior with other women," she said. "Oftentimes there's this assumption that women don't need to be asked about whether they're engaging in sexual behavior with other women.”

Brian Dodge, a researcher and associate professor in the School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation and associate director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion, did a qualitative study of 75 behaviorally bisexual men..

"We asked about very specific behaviors with male, female and transgender partners... “ Dodge said. “We really wanted to get a sense of what behaviors they were engaging in."

Many bisexual men felt isolated, Dodge said, and many of the participants had never discussed their bisexual behaviors with anyone before the study.

"There was a lot of stigma, even shame from both gay and straight friends and family members about bisexuality that was above and beyond just typical stigma," he said. "For some of them it really did seem like they were clearly linking that with having mental health issues, like feeling depressed or anxious or not comfortable with their sexuality because they felt like they were sort of the only ones. So in terms of the needs for actually doing this type of research, it was really validated."

Results from Schick and Dodge's series of studies can be found in a special issue of  Journal of Bisexuality.

For more info on fun activities bisexuals and others can try, and how you can practice them safely, visit Self Serve for a list of our classes. In June and July we are offering classes on blowjobs, fisting, anal pleasure, sexy tools, tips and toys for trans folks and their partners and advanced strap on sex with Sinclair Sexsmith.

Hunter Riley is a sex educator at Self Serve and also manages SEXed, a sex-education blog on WordPress. You can follow her on Facebook and on Twitter.

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