Biracial and bisexual people in the United States encounter a society that does not embrace people who challenge binary thinking, which is “...the notion that things are most naturally divided up into two discrete categories” (Kaplan 1995, 268). The perceived ambiguous identity of biracials and bisexuals challenges the idea that groups can only be discrete and discontinuous. Hence, within the dominant dualistic sex/gender and race/ethnicity structures of the U.S. society, biracial and bisexual people’s existence is denied, and consequently they are marginalized by mono-social identity groups. Bisexuals are marginalized by both heterosexuals and gays/lesbians, and similarly, biracial people are marginalized by various monoracial groups.
Research on the similarities between biracial and bisexual identity development has recently emerged, but there is a gap in the discussion of the interconnectedness between the two groups during college life. This gap shaped the primary question of my research: “Would integrated support to biracial/ethnic and bisexual students be helpful at U.S. colleges/universities and if so, what support would be beneficial?”. The data collection consisted of submitting a questionnaire to colleges/universities that have a student organization for biracial/multiracial students and a student organization for gays, lesbians, and bisexuals (g,l,b). I conducted telephone interviews to further elaborate questionnaire responses. To supplement this primary research, I consulted literature that examines biracial identity development, bisexual identity development, college student development, diversity in higher education, and building communities.
My research points to a lack of awareness among biracial and bisexual students of the parallels and intersections between biraciality and bisexuality. This lack of awareness offers an explanation for the absence of a need expressed by biracial and bisexual students to build coalitions. This research suggests paramount questions to ask in determining if integrated support to both populations would be helpful.
This study helps student affairs professionals increase their awareness of the needs of biracial and bisexual students and gives suggestions for how to support these groups in challenging the paradigms of marginality, as well as how to support other oppressed groups in their struggle against oppression. Additionally, this research is a resource for biracial and bisexual people who are seeking support and a sense of community and acceptance.
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies | Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies
Scheid, Melissa, "Marginality Connecting Biraciality and Bisexuality: Building Support for Interconnectedness in Higher Education" (1998). Capstone Collection. 978.