Bisexuals Less Likely Than Gays and Lesbians to Be Out at Work

·3 min read
Person being mocked by two coworkers
Person being mocked by two coworkers

A new study has found bisexuals reported experiencing less workplace discrimination than their gay and lesbian counterparts, although the findings suggest the disparity may be the result of fewer bisexuals being out at work.

The report from the UCLA School of Law Williams Institute, entitled “The Role of Sexual Orientation and Gender in Workplace Experiences of Cisgender LGB Employees” surveyed 935 LGB adults about their workplace experiences.

The key findings of the report showed that significantly fewer bisexuals were out to their supervisors or coworkers than gays and lesbians. Only 36 percent of cisgender bisexual employees reported being out to their supervisors and only 19 percent reported being out to all their coworkers. Fully half of gays and lesbians, for comparison, were out to their coworkers, and 75 percent reported being out to their supervisors as well.

The report suggests these numbers influenced reported experiences of workplace discrimination. For example, 10 percent more gay and lesbian workers reported discrimination in the workplace than their bisexual counterparts, 34 percent to 24 percent respectively. However, that number narrowed among out gay, lesbian, and bisexual workers, with 33 percent of out bisexual workers reporting discrimination compared to 37 percent of out gay and lesbian workers.

The report also found that bisexual men suffered more workplace discrimination than bisexual women. Of those surveyed, 46 percent of bisexual men reported being fired or not hired due to their sexual identity, while only 27 percent of bisexual women reported similar experiences. Overall, 60 percent of bisexual men reported instances of workplace harassment over their careers, compared to only 38 percent of bisexual women. The report concluded the data suggested that the overall younger average age of female participants in the survey compared to their male counterparts provided less opportunity over the lifetime of their careers to experience discrimination in the workplace.

The report included several quotes from participants in the study, documenting the extent and brazen nature of the types of discrimination faced by gay, lesbian, and bisexual workers. These included use of anti-gay slurs and rhetoric.

“I was called the f-slur and often referenced as ‘fruity’ or ‘soy boy’ as a grown man. I was not promoted because I did not have a female partner,” said a Black cisgender bisexual man from Virginia.

Some reported extortion and outing the person to their coworkers.

“My boss threatened to tell my coworkers I was bi if I didn't work weekends,” a Latinx cisgender bisexual man from New Hampshire said.

Others reported being fired after they came out.

“I was…working for a small-town local insurance company. The woman I worked with and I were having a casual conversation and she made a discriminatory remark about homosexuals. I told her that I was bisexual, and she cut the conversation off instantly. Within two days, the owner fired me because he said he was ‘looking to go in a different direction,’” said a White cisgender bisexual woman from Kentucky.

Some reported the discrimination was based on the abuser’s religion.

“I was told I was going to hell during a job interview for liking women,” said a White cisgender bisexual woman from Michigan.

The report used an anonymous cross-sectional survey conducted between May 5-16, 2021 with U.S. sexual and gender minority adults ages 18 and up who were in the workforce the week of March 1, 2020.

Read the executive summary and highlights here and the full report in pdf form here.