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Show Us the Money: Funding for Bisexual Community Lacking

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Here's some math for the new year:

Fact 1: According to research from the Williams Institute and Hunter College, among others, half of all those in the United States who identify as either gay, lesbian, or bisexual, identify as bisexual. That means, we bi folks make up 50 percent of the LGB (lesbian, gay, bi) population.

Fact 2: Research cited in the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force's report, "Bisexual Health: An Introduction and Model Practices for HIV/AIDS Prevention Programming," shows that, compared to lesbians and gays, bisexual people tend to have poorer health, both physically and mentally, with higher rates of everything from smoking and alcoholism to depression and suicide attempts.

So, if you add Facts 1 and 2 together, it's clear that a large portion of our community is in dire need of support. After all, greater challenges equal greater need. Shouldn't that also equal greater funding?

Unfortunately, here's Fact 3: We bisexual people don't get any. According to the latest report from Funders for LGBTQ Issues, the total amount given from foundations for bi-specific grants in 2009 and 2010 (the last two years of available data) was $0.

The report states:

The 2010 report contains some positive indicators as well as some that continue to challenge our sector... Grants dollars increased by 12 percent to the lesbian community and by 24 percent to gay men. Though the number of transgender-focused grants increased, the amount of total dollars to transgender issues decreased by 5 percent, and support to bisexual-focused issues remained at zero for the second year in a row.

Zero. As in, not one single dollar. For two years.

Something is not adding up. I'm not trying to play "oppression Olympics" here. Every subset of our larger LGBT community needs and deserves funding, to cover costs for everything from direct services to developing the next generation of our movement's leaders. So I'm not saying that bisexuals deserve more than our fair share. What I am saying is that we deserve more than no share at all.

Funders for LGBTQ Issues is a national nonprofit organization based in New York. Of the many important things that they do is produce an annual report looking at who gets what. They just released their report regarding foundation giving in 2010; the report has information on the grant-giving of over 300 foundations and other organizations. Collectively, these grants totaled nearly $100 million in 2010 alone, for LGBT causes. The foundations gave out $97,189,139, to be exact. And out of that $97,189,139, some went to lesbian causes, some to gay, some to transgender, and some to LGBT in general. But, again, not one penny -- of $97,189,139 -- went to bisexuals, the largest subset of the LGB population.

How can this be?

If you ask me, it seems not just biphobic but sexist. After all, research from the Williams Institute and other sources shows that most people who identify as bisexual are women. So when we add this all up, what this means is that women in the LGBT community are being excluded from access to financial resources. Foundations that give money to LGBT issues are disproportionately favoring men and prioritizing men's concerns. As a feminist I find this problematic on multiple levels. For one thing, like bisexuals, women have greater need. And for another, economic discrimination on the basis of gender, which is already all too common in the non-LGBT world, has no place in ours. As a community whose foundation is sexuality and gender identity politics itself, we are de facto poised for feminist analysis and action.

In other words, we're better than this. And we deserve to treat ourselves (many of these foundations are within the LGBT community itself) better than this. We're worth more. For starters, the bi folks in the community are definitely worth more than $0 out of $97,189,139.