Top 10 States for LGBTQ+ workers

For the third year in a row, Out Leadership has published its State LGBTQ+ Business Climate Index, a comprehensive ranking of US states for their LGBTQ+ equality protections and attitudes towards LGBTQ+ people.

These rankings are based on a 100 point grade scale made of up five factors vital to the safety and well-being of LGBTQ+ residents.

  • Legal and Non-Discrimination Protections
  • Youth and Family Support
  • Political and Religious Attitudes
  • Health Access and Safety
  • Work Environment and Employment – which consider the power of business leaders to drive policy and create safe and inclusive spaces for their LGBTQ+ employees.

Whether it’s a proposed piece of legislation to change the naming requirements on government documents or religious support for LGBTQ+ families, some states have made progress over the last year, but all still have a long way to go to achieve full equality for LGBTQ+ individuals and their families.

Here are the top 10 states for LGBTQ+ workers.

New York – 91.67
Moved: +9 pts.
Topping the chart on Out Leadership’s Third Annual State LGBTQ+ Business Climate Index is the State of New York. New York’s progress in areas of healthcare and transgender protections moved the needle up nine points from last year’s ranking, putting them at number one out of 50 states for LGBTQ+ business. Congrats New York!

Connecticut – 90.93
Moved: +2 pts.
Connecticut joined New York at the top of the index this year, ranking number two out of all 50 US states on Out Leadership’s Third Annual State LGBTQ+ Business Climate Index. Connecticut moved up two points from last year’s index and tied for the highest score in the categories of Health Access and Safety and Legal and Non-discrimination Protection.

Massachusetts – 90.33
Moved: -2 pts.
Massachusetts was bumped down from the highest scoring spot for the first time this year in Out Leadership’s Third Annual State LGBTQ+ Business Climate Index by New York and Connecticut but continues to be one of the most affirming places to live as an LGBTQ+ employee and places to do business as an LGBTQ+ friendly employer. Massachusetts has been the first in many LGBTQ+ laws, including being the first state to support transgender protections via popular vote.

Maine – 87.67
Moved: +13 pts.
Maine increased its score by more than any other state this year in Out Leadership’s Third Annual State LGBTQ+ Business Climate Index, ranking number four out of 50 US states and moving the needle by 13 points. A notable accomplishment – Maine added a Non-Binary gender marker to their ID. Maine is one of 20 US states which has taken this progressive step towards LGBTQ+ equality.

Vermont – 86.5
Moved: +3 pts.
Rounding out the top five on Out Leadership’s Third Annual State LGBTQ+ Business Climate Index is Vermont. Vermont increased or stayed consistent in their score in all five categories listed on the index, moving up three points and securing a position on the leaderboard. A notable accomplishment – Vermont joined 16 other states in banning the “gay panic defense” in May of 2021, a legal strategy that considers a victim’s sexual orientation to blame for a perpetrator’s violent actions.

New Jersey – 86.33
Moved: +5
New Jersey broke into the top ten this year in Out Leadership’s Third Annual State LGBTQ+ Business Climate Index with improvement in almost all five metrics, specifically around healthcare access and legal protections. New Jersey added a Non-Binary gender marker to their ID this year along with 19 other US states.

Oregon – 86.33
Moved: -4
Oregon remains in the top 10 states to be an LGBTQ+ friendly employer in Out Leadership’s Third Annual State LGBTQ+ Business Climate Index. The state banned the “gay panic defense” in 2021, protecting LGBTQ+ individuals from discrimination in court, and became one of 20 states to add a Non-Binary gender marker option to their ID.

Rhode Island – 85.63
Moved: -3
Oregon remains in the top 10 states to be an LGBTQ+ friendly employer in Out Leadership’s Third Annual State LGBTQ+ Business Climate Index. The state became one of 20 states to add a Non-Binary gender marker option to their ID.

California – 85.5
Moved: -7
California went down in rank by seven in Out Leadership’s Third Annual State LGBTQ+ Business Climate Index even though their score only dropped two points. Notably, the state moved the classification of the “intentional transition of HIV” to a misdemeanor, but overall, HIV is still criminalized.

Colorado – 85.33
Moved: +3
Colorado has increased its score and rank each year since Out Leadership’s State LGBTQ+ Business Climate Index was published three years ago. This is their first year in the top 10. The Pro-LGBTQ+ records and policy stances from Colorado’s Governor and Senators have resulted in one of the largest score shifts on the index.

Click here to find out how your own state ranked on the index. Take a deep dive into the breakdown of our scoring and the key progress indicators achieved in 2021.