Bisexual & Bystander

In this fifth edition of LGBT FAQ, we are on the letter “B.” Here’s another flag to represent those who identify at Bisexual (You guessed it — the B in LGBT!) Here is a link to the 6 facts about the Bisexual Flag (I didn’t know all of these either. Fascinating!). Sometimes in my travels and presentations, the comment I hear or question I get asked is, “why can’t ‘they‘ choose a side?” I do not have an answer to that question other than to say, “Why are you attracted to whomever you’re attracted to?” It’s not a choice.

As a middle school counselor, this was the number one term used (usually by females) to describe thier identity if they had a very close female friend but didn’t want to be called a lesbian. Perhaps in a young adolescent mind it left the door open to other opportunities? All I can tell you is that I would support the student through their journey and felt honored to be a safe person in whom they trusted.
So, what is the definition of Bisexual? Thanks for asking. Here’s the answer according to noun

a person who is sexually attracted not exclusively to people of one particular gender.
For more information, please check out the Bisexual Resource Center. Here you’ll find resources for youth and adults, a history of the organization and contact information.
My tip for those allies out there, check out this website for more information.

Bystander is the level before becoming an ally. A bystander watches someone being bullied or attacked or hurt and yet does nothing. A bystander is the one who might not laugh at anti- LGBT+ jokes, but who remains silent. By not stopping the joke or remark, you are not an ally, merely a bystander standing on the sidelines. It’s a first step in becoming brave enough to fight against bullying, however it’s just a single step. In some spaces, it may feel like you would be the next in line for being attacked by standing up. And yet without your voice, the unitented consequence is that those who are doing the bullying feel like they have carte blanche to continue their attacks. Because, after all, everyone thinks this is funny! By merely saying, “That’s not funny,” you shift the conversation and put others on alert that it’s not o.k. to attack another person. Eleanor Roosevelt is quoted as saying, “Do one thing every day that scares you.” I challenge you to make your one thing speaking up.

One phrase that has benefited from bystanders becoming allies is the phrase, “That’s so gay.” It wasn’t long ago that you’d hear that phrase tossed around constantly. Thanks to a ton of hard work led by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) & the National Education Association (NEA) teaching allies what to say when they hear “That’s So Gay”, coupled with the even harder work done by schools across the country, it’s rare to hear that particular phrase. It’s a true testament to the power of shifting from bystander to ally. We will explore more of the HRC’s Welcoming Schools Campaign when we reach the letter “W.” Until then, I encourage you to be brave! Be an ally rather than just a bystander, please and thank you!

Published by Lisa Koenecke

An award-winning motivational speaker looking to help you succeed! Lisa is a proven collaborative leader and systems change advocate. She grew up on a farm and spent 20 summers as a camp director for both the YMCA and the Girl Scouts. After receiving her master's degree from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, she has been a middle and high school counselor for 12 years. She is the Past President of the Wisconsin School Counselor Association and has served on the American School Counselor Association Board of Directors. Currently, Lisa is an Adjunct Instructor at Lakeland University training the next generation of counselors.

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