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Best and Worst States for LGBTQ Equality 2024

Best and Worst States for LGBTQ Equality 2024

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The number of non-heterosexual Americans has doubled in a decade, increasing to over seven percent in 2022. However, the  LGBTQ+ community faces more challenges than ever before, with equality decreasing across the nation, according to a new report by Out Leadership, a global LGBTQ+ business platform. For the past six years, the organization has published an annual State LGBTQ+ Business Climate Index, measuring each state’s record on gay rights and equality.

“With a rapidly changing cultural climate and a political landscape poised to undo two decades of progress toward LGBTQ+ equality, this year’s Climate Index provides essential insight into the state of LGBTQ+ equality in the United States,” this year’s report states, noting that for the second year in a row, the average score of all 50 states has dropped indicating a decrease in LGBTQ+ equality in the country. The main reason for the negative change is the adoption of anti-trans policies by over 20 states.

Another trend the report highlights is the deepening polarization across the nation “as states that excel in LGBTQ+ equality continue to thrive and states that demonstrate hostility to LGBTQ+ rights continue to jeopardize the LGBTQ+ community’s ability to live and work,” Out Leadership concluded.

So, which states support LGBTQ+ equality the most? New York scored 93.67 out of 100, the highest on the list, followed by Connecticut (93.27), Massachusetts (92), and New Jersey (90). In the regional rankings, Illinois took the lead in the Midwest, Virginia was the winner in the Southeast, Colorado in the West, and New Mexico in the Southwest.

Overall, 16 states increased their scores since last year, with Michigan, Georgia, and Oregon having the most significant upward movement. The report notes that the Great Lakes State, which had an impressive 4.87 increase, implemented a statewide ban on conversion therapy, protecting its LGBTQ+ population.

However, according to The American Civil Liberties Union, hundreds of anti-gay policies and regulations have been introduced in 40 states since the beginning of this year alone. 

For the second year in a row, Arkansas had the lowest score of all 50 states (27 out of 100), five percentage points lower than its 2023 score and the lowest score ever received by a state in the six years since Out Leadership started publishing its Index. Louisiana (31.50) and South Carolina (31.90) are in the top three worst states for LGBTQ+ equality.

The Index features five categories, Legal and Nondiscrimination Protections, Youth and Family Support, Political and Religious Attitudes, Health Access and Safety, and Work Environment and Employment, and each accounts for 20 percent of the overall score.

You can see all rankings and read the report’s conclusions on outleadership.com.

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