Public Health Professor Attends White House Briefing on Bisexuality

Thursday, October 6, 2016

UNC Charlotte public health sciences professor Jessamyn Bowling recently participated in a White House community briefing on bisexuality.  Held by the White House Office of Public Engagement to honor and recognize the contributions and experiences of the U.S. bisexual community, the briefing came as part of a series of events connected to Bisexuality Awareness Week.

Statistics show bisexual individuals face disproportionate rates of poverty, negative mental and physical health outcomes, and violence. Over 150 activists, researchers, and advocates atteneded the event to discuss these issues and celebrate acceptance by family members, strength in the community and improved visibility.

Dr. Bowling has researched bisexual parents in the U.S. and their communication with their children. Dialogues about same-sex marriage do not fully encompass the experiences of bisexual individuals, and resources to support bisexual individuals are needed, advocates maintain. Bowling also works with sexual minority (including lesbian, bisexual, queer, and unlabeled) women in India, where bisexual women report experiences of biphobia similar to those documented in the U.S., including hypersexualization.

“Dialogue on a national scale increases the visibility of bisexuality, working against myths of bisexuality as 'just a phase' or not a legitimate identity,” Bowling said. The White House community briefing was a step towards increased investment from federal agencies in addressing biphobia and the disparities faced by bisexual individuals, she added.

The Obama administration has worked to address some LGBT issues, such as the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in the U.S. military and refusing to uphold the Defense of Marriage Act. However, funding for bisexuality-focused research and interventions remains limited.

For Bowling, the White House event also held personal significance.

“As a bisexual individual myself, I found it powerful to be in a room with so many strong advocates of bisexuality who voiced the importance of intersectionality (with race and ethnicity, disability status, gender identity, and others),” she said.

The archive of the event can be accessed at https://youtu.be/vNQ-UHFfen8