Minister acknowledges work with bi communities in addressing mental health challenges

Helen Grant (The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport) was recently asked what discussions the UK Government Equalities Office has had with LGBT mental health service providers in the last year. Here is her response (reposted from www.theyworkforyou.com):

Ministers and officials from the Government Equalities Office regularly meet a broad range of LGB&T stakeholders, including mental health providers and other organisations with an interest in this area, to discuss key issues and priorities for the sector. Topics raised include the mental health needs of LGB&T individuals, areas of discrimination and issues with service provision.

In the last year, officials have met with organisations with an interest in this area including: the Albert Kennedy Trust, Bi Community News, Bisexual Index, BiUK, Broken Rainbow, GALOP, GIRES, METRO Centre, PACE, Press for Change, Stonewall, Stonewall Housing, The Lesbian and Gay Foundation (LGF), The LGBT Consortium, and The National LGB&T Partnership. The LGBT Consortium, the National LGB&T Partnership and BiUK are umbrella organisations who raise issues on behalf of their wider membership. Officials also sit on the Parliamentary Forum on Gender Identity where mental health issues are regularly raised. Officials have also had meetings with NHS England andPublic Health England at which they have discussed mental health issues.

In the last year, the Minister for Sport, Tourism and Equalities met representatives from the Lesbian and Gay Foundation, LGB&T Consortium, PACE Health, Stonewall, Broken Rainbow, the METRO Centre, and BiUK on 10 October 2013; and representatives from GIRES, Gendered Intelligence and the Gender Identity Clinic in Hammersmith on 15 October 2013.

On 12 June 2014 the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport visited Birmingham LGBT Centre which hosts mental health services. The Secretary of State also met leading LGB&T representatives on 30 June 2014 including Stonewall, Lesbian and Gay Foundation, LGB&T Consortium, GIRES, and Gendered Intelligence. Health issues were discussed at all events.

“Bisexuality does exist, it is not a fiction, nor is it a phase”, Edward Lord’s key message to Civil Service equality conference

BiUK member Edward Lord presented a speech today at the Civil Service Rainbow Alliance conference 2013. He said…

I had the privilege of giving a keynote address to today’s Civil Service Rainbow Alliance (the national LGB&T staff network) conference at the Ministry of Defence. Also on the programme were Sir Bob Kerslake, Head of the Civil Service; Keir Starmer, the Director of Public Prosecutions; Liz Bingham, managing Partner at EY; and Peter Tatchell.

Ed

 

I was invited to speak having been profiled last year by Stonewall as an LGB role model in its publication “Being yourself: sexual orientation and the workplace“, which gave me the starting point for my speech:

“Being an out politician can often mean acting as a role model not just within my local Council, but also in wider society: demonstrating that it is possible to be queer and play an active part in public life.

Indeed, I would argue that my sexual orientation and my understanding of the experiences of LGB&T people makes me better comprehend the diverse society in which we live and the discrimination which those from diverse backgrounds can face.

And it is on one element of discrimination, often within our own LGB&T communities, that I would like to focus my address today.

Of the seventeen Stonewall role models, I was the only one who identifies as bisexual; that is with the capacity to love people of more than one gender.

You may ask why that matters.

You may say “Don’t we all as LGB&T people suffer the same kind of discrimination in society?”

I would argue that we don’t and that there is a hierarchy where, in general, gay men, especially if they’re white and ‘straight acting’, have it a lot easier than lesbians, bisexual people and trans folk.

Bisexual people in particular often find themselves being made invisible both within and outside LGB&T communities.

Read more of this post

Same-sex marriage and BiUK

More on same-sex marriage and bisexuality (and BiUK) over on http://rewritingtherules.wordpress.com/2013/07/25/same-sex-marriage-opening-up-and-closing-down/

Heteronormativity

One of the BiUK members, Meg Barker, has blogged about heteronormativity here. A topic of much relevance for bisexual folk. To summarise the argument:

What is wrong with heteronormativity?

  • It leaves people feeling alienated and alone.
  • It is bad for LGBT people and other people who are outside of it.
  • It sets up an ‘us and them’ which enables homophobia, biphobia and transphobia to exist.
  • It is questionable whether the ‘normative’ form of heterosexuality actually is normal.
  • Our treatment of others should not be based on how normal, or not, they are.
  • It is bad for those who have some desires or feelings outside the ‘norm’.
  • It puts pressure on those who are inside it to stay inside it, and may prevent them for finding the kinds of sex and relationships that work for them.

What can we do about it?

  • Move to a model of sexual diversity rather than normality/abnormality.
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