Bisexual workers report experiencing less discrimination, but are more likely to conceal identity

·3 min read

Story at a glance

  • Bisexual workers in the U.S. are less likely than gay or lesbian employees to report workplace discrimination, according to new data from the Williams Institute, but bisexual workers are also less likely to be out at work.

  • Bisexual employees who are open about their sexual orientation at work reported higher rates of discrimination.

  • Americans who identify as LGBTQ+ have doubled over the last decade, and more than half of LGBTQ+ people in the U.S. identify as bisexual.

Bisexual workers in the U.S. are less likely than their gay or lesbian counterparts to experience workplace discrimination tied to their sexual orientation, according to data released Thursday by the Williams Institute, a public policy think tank that researches LGBTQ+ issues. But bisexual workers are also far less likely to report being open about their identity with their coworkers or supervisors.

Just less than a quarter of all cisgender bisexual workers in the U.S. report facing discrimination at work, including being fired or not hired, because of their sexual orientation, the Williams Institute said in its report.

While that’s roughly 10 percent lower than levels reported by cisgender gay and lesbian workers, bisexual employees are much more likely to conceal their identity at work.

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Just a third of bisexual workers reported being out to their colleagues compared with roughly 75 percent of gay and lesbian workers, according to the Williams Institute report, which analyzed survey responses collected last year from nearly 1,000 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender adults in the workforce.

When bisexual workers were open about their sexual orientation at work, they reported rates of workplace discrimination similar to those of other sexual minorities.

“The higher rates of concealing their sexual minority identity among bisexual employees may mask the extent to which they experience unfair treatment based on their sexual orientation,” Christy Mallory, legal director at the Williams Institute and the report’s lead author, said Thursday in a news release.

“It is vital that policymakers, employers, and researchers take a nuanced approach to understanding and addressing sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination in the workplace to meet the unique needs of these communities,” Mallory said.

Experiences of workplace discrimination among openly bisexual workers differ by gender, according to the Williams Institute report, and 60 percent of out bisexual men reported being subjected to verbal, physical or sexual harassment at work, compared with 38 percent of openly bisexual women and 33 percent lesbians.

Another 46 percent of openly bisexual men and 25 percent of openly bisexual women said they had been fired or not hired because of their sexual orientation. Fifty-eight percent of out bisexual men reported leaving their job because of unfair treatment, compared with 27 percent of openly bisexual women.

Americans who identify as LGBTQ+ have surged over the past decade, climbing to a record high in 2021, according to Gallup. More than half of LGBTQ+ Americans, 57 percent, identify as bisexual.

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