First Advisor

Ben Anderson-Nathe

Date of Publication

Fall 9-26-2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Social Work and Social Research


Social Work and Social Research




Bisexual youth -- Social life and customs, Bisexual teenagers -- Social life and customs, Social interaction in youth -- Psychological aspects, Biphobia



Physical Description

1 online resource (viii, 166 pages)


Research addressing the concerns of bisexually attracted youth has markedly increased in the past few years, yet remains limited in comparison to that addressing the issues of lesbian and gay youth (Brewster & Moradi, 2010). Those few studies treating bisexual participants as distinct from lesbian and gay participants have findings indicating that some youth who identify as bisexual experience higher rates of depression, pregnancy, substance abuse, suicidal ideations, and suicide attempts compared to their lesbian and gay peers (Kennedy & Fisher, 2010; Lewis, Derlega, Brown, Rose, & Henson, 2009; Saewyc, Homma, Skay, Bearinger, Resnick, & Reis, 2009). Most commonly, however, research studies examine all lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer participants as one group, and little is known about the ways in which these distinct groups differ. Biphobia, defined as the aversion felt toward bisexuality and bisexuals as a social group or as individuals, contributes to barriers in addressing this gap.

The primary objective of this study was to gain an understanding of how the participants recalled their social interactions and how they made sense of them. In depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted with ten young people who were bisexually attracted when they were of high school age. Results were analyzed and discussed using an Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) approach. Analyses of these accounts revealed the ways these young people made sense of feeling dismissed, isolated, invisible, and unsafe in their environments and the ways they used their observations to control future interactions. The participants discussed their experiences with coming out to family members and friends and the strain of choosing to hide their attractions to more than one gender.

These findings indicate the need for services offering specific supports and interventions for bisexually attracted youth. Social workers, youth workers, and educators can best serve this population by acknowledging the uniqueness of their experiences. Future research, focused on group specific concerns, could close the existing gap in the knowledge base.


In Copyright. URI: This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).

Persistent Identifier