Out Leadership’s Business Climate Index for the 50 United States is an assessment of states’ performance on LGBTQ+ inclusion. It measures the impact government policies and prevalent attitudes have on the LGBTQ+ people residing in each state, quantifying the economic imperatives for inclusion and the costs of discrimination. It equips business leaders and policymakers with a clear sense of the most impactful steps states can take to make themselves more hospitable to forward-thinking, innovative, inclusive businesses.
out of a possible 100 points
People can change the gender markers on a birth certificate without gender confirmation surgery. Changing a gender marker on a driver’s license requires a name change. There is no statewide nondiscrimination law inclusive of sexual orientation or gender identity, but some municipalities have passed protections locally.
There no ban on conversion therapy in Alaska. There are no explicit laws allowing discrimination against LGBT+ children in foster care or prospective adoptive parents, but there also aren’t laws banning it.
One of the state’s two U.S. Senators has a track record of advocating and voting for LGBT+ rights; the other Senator and the state’s Governor do not. Alaska does not have a religious exemption law, but there are state court decisions interpreting the state’s religious liberty protections to require strict scrutiny, to a similar end.
There are no hate crimes protections for LGBT+ people in Alaska. There is no law explicitly criminalizing HIV transmission or exposure, but enhanced sentencing may be applied based on a defendant’s HIV status.* There are no protections for trans-related healthcare in public or private insurance plans, and the state’s Medicaid program explicitly forbids covering it.
10% of transgender employees in Alaska reported being harassed in the past year due to their gender identity, and 25% report mistreatment such being told to present in the wrong gender in order to keep a job. 26% of LGBT+ individuals in Alaska reported food insecurity, double that of the non-LGBT+ population (13%). Up to 33% of LGBT+ individuals in Alaska reported making less than $24,000 per year. 15% of LGBT+ individuals report unemployment in Alaska, triple the rate for non-LGBT+ people (5%).
Download this report to learn how and why Out Leadership created the LGBTQ+ Business Climate Index for the 50 U.S. States, with important details about our methodology, including our data standards and practices. NOTE: *HIV criminalization laws are discriminatory and ineffective. These laws fail to account for advances made in treating and controlling HIV, may deter people from getting tested and seeking treatment, and can exacerbate the stigma targeting people living with HIV and LGBTQ+ people.Our Methodology
The legal and cultural situation for LGBTQ+ people varies widely across the country. This map, based on each state's total Business Climate Score, illustrates the states where LGBTQ+ people are empowered to participate more fully and openly in the economy, and the states that are lagging behind.
Our partnerships make our work possible. The first State LGBTQ+ Business Climate Index released in 2019 was funded by a grant from the Gill Foundation. The Index is based on data graciously shared by the Movement Advancement Project and the Williams Institute. Ropes & Gray is our pro bono legal partner for the CEO Business Briefs globally, and their research informs this Index. FCB partnered with us to conduct original market research into American attitudes toward LGBTQ+ workplace inclusion, informing the Regional Context section of the State CEO Briefs. America Competes supported the development of the scoring for the Risk Assessments, particularly for the Future Risk score.
Out Leadership and FCB partnered on original market research into the attitudes of American workers on LGBT+ inclusion, which fielded in 2019 and 2020. These briefs as a whole will be updated on an ongoing basis by Out Leadership because we recognize the ever-changing nature of policy on the local, state, and national level.
Overall, 52.5% of LGBT+ workers in the West are out at work. However, urbanicity has a big impact on whether LGBT+ workers feel comfortable sharing personal information at work (LGBT+ workers are 26% less likely to share when in rural areas vs 4% less likely to share in urban areas compared to national average). There is also a big impact when it comes to age and being open to managers, with older LGBT+ workers in this region being more likely to share with their managers than any other age group nationwide (52% more likely). West workers are also 14% more likely to report microaggressions at work which may be why LGBT+/Allies are also 15% more likely to say they want to work with companies that are more supportive of LGBT+ rights. Even though there are reports of microaggressions in the workplace, workers in this region were 35% less likely to say that the state’s leadership talked negatively about LGBT+ issues.
Unless otherwise noted, all comparisons for more or less likely are compared to the National results. Regional results are based off of 1,500 respondents (LGBT+ and Non-LGBT+ responses have been weighted to be age-representative for each audience in each region). National results are based off of 600 respondents representative of each audience (LGBT+ vs Non-LGBT+).
States in the Western region included: Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming.
Legal status of the Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Community
Alaska does not have a comprehensive nondiscrimination law inclusive of sexual orientation or gender identity. On a local level, the municipalities of Anchorage, Juneau, and Sitka have protections from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the context of public and private employment, public accommodations, and housing.
State employees are protected from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation but not gender identity.- There is no explicit protections for youths in foster care from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
There are no explicit restrictions against same-sex couples adopting, but there are also no laws forbidding adoption agencies from discriminating against them.
Alaska does not have a religious exemption law, but there are state court decisions interpreting the state’s religious liberty protections to require strict scrutiny, to a similar end.
Alaska has no statute explicitly criminalizing HIV transmission or exposure, but enhanced sentencing may be applied based on a defendant’s HIV status if they are found guilty of one of several specified sex offenses (including incest and sexual offenses against minors).
Hate crimes laws in the state don’t cover sexual orientation or gender identity.
There is no ban on conversion therapy in Alaska.
Legal status of the Transgender Community
Alaskans can amend the gender markers on a birth certificate, though the original demarcation will still appear in fine print. The process requires a name change form and either a letter from a physician or a court-ordered gender-change form.
Alaskans can amend the gender markers on a driver’s license. It requires a name change and either a letter signed by a clinician that the applicant has undergone appropriate treatment or an updated birth certificate, U.S. Passport, or court order for gender change.
Trans healthcare is specifically excluded from coverage under Alaska’s Medicaid program.
There are no laws excluding trans healthcare from insurance, but there also aren’t any laws mandating or protecting it.
Government statements and actions
U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski was the third Senate Republican to publicly support marriage equality, back in 2013.
The City Council of Fairbanks, Alaska’s second-largest city, passed LGBTQ anti-discrimination protections in February 2019, but the mayor vetoed them. This year, the city’s school district incorporated an LGBT+ literature course into its high school curricula.
The city of Bethel also has a non-discrimination policy for city employees.
The city of Juneau elected its first out gay city assembly member in 2019 (Greg Smith), and successfully gained a city-sanctioned and installed rainbow crosswalk downtown in 2019. While Juneau has a non-discrimination ordinance now, there is nobody to enforce it should there be a complaint. Juneau also enjoys a robust annual Pride celebration, now in its 34th year (2020).
In March 2020, a transgender state employee won a lawsuit against Alaska’s health insurance provider for not covering her gender affirmation surgery.
The State House introduced an LGBT+ equality bill in 2019 but is still languishing in committee.
State Attorney General Kevin Clarkson filed an amicus brief to the Supreme Court in summer 2019 in support of legalized employment discrimination against LGBT+ people. Clarkson has a long history of advocating for anti-LGBT+ discrimination.
For more context around these scores, and to learn more about the criteria we used to assess how state laws, actions and attitudes toward LGBTQ+ people create business and talent risks, please visit www.outleadership.com/staterisk.
Status of LGBT+ Organizing and Community
Some 12,000 people attended Anchorage’s annual Pridefest in 2019, a record turnout for the 42-year-old event. In 2020, the event was postponed to an undetermined date due to COVID-19.
Alaska has a strong and active LGBT+ advocacy community. In 2018, their work helped defeat Prop. 1 in Anchorage, a ballot question proposing to roll back trans protections in the city.
Cultural Views of the LGBT+ Community
42% of Alaskans – favor allowing small businesses to discriminate against LGBTQ people.
59% of Alaskans favor LGBT+ nondiscrimination laws.