Thursday, 10 February 2011

Are bis boring?

Because I'm a hip, happening, party animal kind of a person, I've been reading the research findings of the Government Equalities Office's work on "experiences of and barriers to participation in public and political life for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people". Now it's a huuuge great long report and there are some useful and interesting things in there both as a queer activist and as a left-wing politico. But there was one thing that really leapt out at me after a while.

They aimed to recruit 80 interviewees. 20 L, 20 G, 20 B, 20 T. That in itself is a bit iffy - there are for instance almost certainly more bi people than lesbian and gay put together - but let's accept it as a way of getting a broad L+G+B+T cross-section for now.

They recruited 20 lesbians, 22 gay men, 21 transgender people, and ...13 bisexuals. Apparently, we were really hard to find. So they gave up looking?

And then they interviewed this group of 76 people (apparently no-one was both B and T, or what have you) and picked the most pertinent quotes from the panel to intersperse through the report, as you do when a long wordy publication needs a bit of colour. Quotes were anonymous but tagged [G] for a quote from a gay man, and so on. I thought there seemed to be a bit of a dearth of [B] so counted them up, as I had a long train journey to pass.
Lesbian: 20 people, 31 quotes
Gay: 22 people, 32 quotes
Transgender: 21 people, 27 quotes
Bisexual: 13 people, 12 quotes

Gosh. L, G or T, get interviewed and we'll use on average one and a half snippets of what you contributed. Bis? One quote each, form an orderly soundbite queue please.

So: are bis boring, is this within normal statistical distribution, or is this a somewhat suspicious bit of subediting from GEO?


  1. Bi people boring? I don't think so. Just severely under-represented here. This makes me sad that they didn't bother to do this properly and get a bigger sample of people especially if it's a huge report. 76 people overall out of so many? This gives me even less faith in the government...

    Out of interest where can I find this report? I did a quick bit of Googling but couldn't find it.

  2. It's qualitative research so it might be a big enough sample, I'm not an academic so perhaps someone can comment on that.

    But yeah, bothering to find more bis would help a lot! As then they might have found one or two they thought were quoteable enough to even up the balance!

  3. has the report

  4. Another way of looking at it is:

    40 homosexual men and women
    20 bisexual men and women
    20 trans ppl who we won't include in any of the above because being T takes them out of those groups.

    Can't be G and T because all the T people are immediately set aside for the T group......

  5. As I said - (apparently no-one was both B and T, or what have you)

    And yes, counting bi men and women as a single lump does help weight towards reporting of gay experiences.