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Bisexuality "Not Legitimate" For Heterosexual Men, Study

Update Date: Nov 05, 2013 11:36 AM EST

Many heterosexual men say that bisexuality is "not a legitimate sexual orientation," according to a new study.

New research reveals that men who identify themselves as heterosexual are three times more likely to say that bisexuality is not a sexual orientation. Researchers said that this attitude could lead to negative health outcomes in bisexual people.

"Bisexual men and women face prejudice, stigma and discrimination from both heterosexual and homosexual people," Mackey Friedman of the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health said in a news release.

"This can cause feelings of isolation and marginalization, which prior research has shown leads to higher substance use, depression and risky sexual behavior. It also can result in lower rates of HIV testing and treatment," he explained.

For the study, researchers surveyed hundreds of adult college students for words that come to mind in relation to bisexual people, such as "confused," "different" and "experimental." Afterwards, researchers developed a 33-question survey and administered it to an online sample of 1,500 adults.

The findings revealed that almost 15 percent of survey respondents disagreed that bisexuality is a legitimate sexual orientation. However, women, white people and people who identified themselves as lesbian, gay or bisexual had less bias and prejudice against bisexual people.

The study also revealed that respondents who identified as gay or lesbian responded significantly less positively toward bisexuality than those identifying as bisexual, indicating that even within the sexual minority community, bisexuals face profound stigma. The study also found that male bisexuals face more stigma than female bisexuals.

Researchers said that latest findings are important because a bisexual person may feel sexual isolated and unable to talk opening with friends, family and schoolmates when he or she feel like his or her sexual orientation is not recognized by other peers.

"Having hard data to back up why a bisexual person might feel the need to be secretive about sexual orientation, something that can lead to higher depression and many other negative health outcomes, is very useful to people trying to fight stigma and marginalization," said Friedman.

"For example, this information can guide social marketing interventions and outreach to reduce that stigma, and improve rates of HIV prevention, testing and treatment within the bisexual community," he added.

The findings were presented at the American Public Health Association's 141st Annual Meeting & Exposition in Boston.

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