Not asking the right questions

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There's an annual survey of social attitudes, excitingly named the British Social Attitudes survey. There's also a separate Scottish one and, partly because it was in the news today, it's that one that I've looked at first.*

The Guardian headline is Scotland survey shows greater acceptance of same-sex relationships. This is based on the report saying:

Between 2010 and 2015, the proportion of people who did not know anyone who is gay or lesbian has a mental health problem or is a Muslim declined. However, a
4higher proportion of people did not know someone who is Muslim (41%) than did not know someone who has a mental health problem (19%), someone from a different racial or ethnic background (19%), or someone who is gay or lesbian (15%).

In 2015, just under a fifth (18%) of people believed that 'sexual relations between two adults of the same sex' were wrong. The proportion who say that same sex relationships are wrong has been declining steady over time since 2000 when nearly half (48%) believed that same sex relationships were wrong

Elsewhere, there is the result of a question on equality:

.. in 2010, 1 in 5 (20%) said attempts to give equal opportunities to lesbian and gay people had gone too far, but this figure declined to 10% in 2015.

Both those are good, but it's screamingly noticeable that the word 'bisexual' doesn't appear anywhere in the report.

83% of non-lesbian and gay respondents know someone who's lesbian or gay – how many know someone who's out about being bisexual? Knowing someone of a particular minority group is linked to being less prejudiced against them, and the number not knowing any lesbians or gay men has halved since 2002.

The increases from 2010 were most noticeable in 'a family member' and 'a friend' – how many know they have a bisexual family member or friend?

16% would be unhappy with somone in their family forming a relationship with a lesbian or gay man – how many would be unhappy about a relationship with a bisexual?

55% felt that attempts to give equal opportunities to lesbian and gay people were 'about right', 28% said it has not gone far enough, and 10% reckon its gone 'too far' – how many are against discrimination against bisexuals? Previous research has reckoned that, probably because it's assumed to imply non-monogamy and 'choice', bisexuality is less socially acceptable than homosexuality.

The advantage of keeping consistent questions is that you can indeed track changes in attitudes over time. But this is only the fourth time the Scottish Social Attitudes survey has included questions on attitudes to discrimination (the others were in 2002, 2006 and 2010), so a) they don't even have the excuse that they've been asking the same bisexual erasure questions since the 1980s and b) we'll probably have to wait another five years before there's any prospect of them including attitudes to bisexuals and bisexuality.

This is what erasure looks like.

At least we know who to point the finger at: "These questions were funded jointly by the Scottish Government and the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC)."

* And because the downloads aren't working for the BSA site…

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