The largest proportion of lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) youth experiencing homelessness identify as bisexual: in a recent study of street outreach programs by the Administration on Children, Youth, and Families, 20.0% of youth identified as bisexual, compared to 9.9% of youth who identified as gay or lesbian, and 4.1% as “something else.”  Gender identity was collected separately from sexual orientation; 6.8% of youth in this survey identified as transgender.
Despite bisexual youth comprising the largest proportion of LGB youth, bisexual youth have little access to targeted services. And a growing body of research shows that bisexual youth experience unique challenges and barriers that put them at an increased risk of experiencing homelessness.
For example, bisexual youth report high rates of suicidal thoughts and behaviors. According to a 2011 study of more than 13,000 middle and high school students, over 40% of bisexual youth reported thinking about suicide in the past 30 days (compared to 7% of heterosexual youth and 23% of LGBTQ youth in general), and 17% percent reported attempting suicide in the past year.  A 2013 study found that bisexual teens who reported suicidal thoughts did not report a decrease in these thoughts as they aged into adulthood, unlike their heterosexual and gay and lesbian peers. 
Bisexual youth are more likely to engage in some risk behaviors than non-bisexual youth. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2001-2009 Youth Risk Behavior Survey found that bisexual youth were more likely than non-bisexual youth to engage in risk behaviors, defined in the survey as behaviors that contribute to unintentional injuries, behaviors that contribute to violence, behaviors related to attempted suicide, tobacco use, alcohol use, other drug use, sexual behaviors, and weight management.  Like youth experiencing homelessness, bisexual youth are more likely to engage in survival sex. 
Additionally, some bisexual youth lack support at school and from peers and families. In a report based on the 2013 Minnesota Student Survey, bisexual youth reported experiencing more challenges to success in school than gay, lesbian, and questioning youth, including mental distress and family violence. Bisexual youth also experienced lower levels of protective factors such as having a positive view of their identity, having teacher/school support, feeling generally supported, feeling empowered, and having a commitment to learning.  A 2014 study of LGBT youth found low levels of family acceptance and knowledge of support systems among bisexual youth (27% of bisexual youth said their families were “very accepting,” compared to 33% of lesbian and gay youth).  In fact, a 2005 study looking at the risks of homelessness among LGBT and straight youth found that 26% of bisexual youth indicated they experience homelessness because of physical abuse inflicted by their parents (compared to 13% of gay and lesbian and 15% of heterosexual youth). 
"My father didn’t respect me for who I am because he don’t like bisexual people or gay people so from there I came out to him and I told him and then he just kicked me out, because he couldn’t take it." – 19 years old, Latino, bisexual, male (via SAS Surviving Streets)
Bisexual youth were also less likely to know about school support systems, including Gender and Sexuality Alliances (GSAs), or to know a supportive adult in their school compared to gay and lesbian youth.  Bisexual youth were less likely to be out to their families, friends, peers, and school than gay and lesbian youth, mirroring the experiences of bisexual adults. 
Without these targeted supports in mental health, risk behaviors, and family acceptance as well as decreased access to positive schools supports bisexual youth are at an increased risk of experiencing homelessness and housing instability. Bisexual youth face such challenges with unique strengths, including strong self-advocacy and communication skills , which is important to keep in mind when working with and designing targeted programs and support for the bisexual community.
The disparities experienced by bisexual youth underscore the need for targeted services and support for bisexual youth experiencing homelessness and bisexual youth at risk of homelessness. Additionally, surveys of LGB youth must be sure to disaggregate data between bisexual and gay and lesbian youth. When data are disaggregated, the unique disparities of bisexual youth are made clear and can drive changes to policy and practice to reduce the disparities and homelessness among bisexual youth.
The Movement Advancement Project (MAP) is an independent think tank that provides rigorous research, insight, and analysis that help speed equality for LGBT people. MAP works collaboratively with LGBT organizations, advocates and funders, providing information, analysis and resources that help coordinate and strengthen efforts for maximum impact. MAP’s policy research informs the public and policymakers about the legal and policy needs of LGBT people and their families.
Heron Greenesmith, Esq., LGBT Movement and Policy Analyst, The Movement Advancement Project
Kate Estrop, Board Co-President, Bisexual Resource Center
Amy Nicole Miller, Associate Director, The Broadway Youth Center
Landon "LJ" Woolston, LGBTQ Homeless Service Liaison, Project SAFE
- The largest proportion of lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) youth experiencing homelessness identify as bisexual.
- Bisexual youth report high rates of suicidal thoughts and behaviors.
- Youth who identify as bisexual are more likely to engage in risk behaviors.
- Bisexual youth are less likely to know about school support systems, including Gender and Sexuality Alliances, or to know a supportive adult in their school than gay and lesbian youth. 
- Surveys of LGB youth must be sure to disaggregate data between bisexual and gay and lesbian youth.
In a recent study of Street Outreach Programs  20% of youth experiencing homelessness identify as bisexual.