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ARKANSAS
LGBTQ+ Business Climate Score

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.

38.2

out of a possible 100 points

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Legal & Nondiscrimination Protection

Gender marker changes on state ID and drivers’ licenses are permitted by request. Gender marker changes on birth certificates require a court order issued upon proof of surgery. There are no statewide LGBT+ nondiscrimination protections and is a state law to prohibit local protections. However, some cities have employment protections and one city has protections against discrimination employment, housing and public accommodations.

8 / 20
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Youth & Family Support

The state takes no action on complaints by transgender students who are barred from using facilities that match their gender identity. There is no ban on conversion therapy in the state.

11.33 / 20
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Political & Religious Attitudes

The state has a governor and senators with lengthy track records of voting against LGBT+ equality. The state has had a Religious Freedom Restoration Act since 2015.

7.2 / 20
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Health Access & Safety

Medicaid does not explicitly include or exclude transgender healthcare in the state. There are no LGBT+-specific hate crimes protections. HIV-positive people can be prosecuted for donating blood or having sex even if they don’t transmit the disease and didn’t know their status at the time.*

4.67 / 20
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Work Environment & Employment

10% of transgender employees in Arkansas report being harassed in the past year due to their gender identity, and 25% report mistreatment such as being told to present in the wrong gender in order to keep a job. 26% of LGBT+ individuals in Arkansas reported food insecurity, double the rate for non-LGBT+ (13%). Up to 33% of LGBT+ individuals in Arkansas reported making less than $24,000 per year. 15% of LGBT+ individuals report unemployment in Arkansas, more than triple the rate of their non-LGBT+ peers (5%).

7 / 20
A Note on Methodology

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
Talking Points
  • 3.3% of Arkansas’s residents identify as LGBT+. Conservatively, that’s LGBT+ personal income of $4.2 billion – it’s a market my business can’t afford to ignore.
  • When LGBT+ employees don’t feel welcome at work, they’re less likely to stay, and employee turnover is a drag on the state economy and business competitiveness. It costs companies an average of $8,106 to replace an employee in Arkansas, and it can cost up to $270,425 to replace senior executives. Arkansas and the businesses operating there have strong financial incentives to create inclusive workplaces in the interest of keeping these costs down.
  • Millennial and Gen Z consumers prefer to do business with companies with LGBT+ friendly advertising and policies–54% say they’re more likely to choose an LGBT+ inclusive brand over a competitor – which is why it’s important that Arkansas foster a business environment where being inclusive is supported.
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Impact of LGBTQ+ Discrimination on Business and Talent
  • 1
    No Risk
  • 2
    Low Risk
  • 3
    Moderate Risk
  • 4
    Notable Risk
  • 5
    High Risk

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.

BRAND RISK
  • 5
    High Risk
Companies incur high risk to their brands by operating in Arkansas, where there are no statewide LGBT+ inclusive nondiscrimination protections and cities are being actively prevented by the state from passing more progressive policies. Nonetheless, Northwest Arkansas has a more progressive culture, and is a hub of state industry and a major draw for out-of-state and foreign talent.
CLIENT RISK
  • 5
    High Risk
There is notable risk of LGBT+ or strong ally clients pulling their business from companies operating in Arkansas in light of the state’s business climate and reputation.
TALENT RISK
  • 4
    Notable Risk
Companies incur high risk to their brands by operating in Arkansas, where there are no statewide LGBT+ inclusive nondiscrimination protections and cities are being actively prevented by the state from passing more progressive policies. Nonetheless, Northwest Arkansas has a more progressive culture, and is a hub of state industry and a major draw for out-of-state and foreign talent.
MARKETING RISK
  • 5
    High Risk
There is notable risk involved in marketing to the LGBT+ community in Arkansas, where there is no statewide LGBT+ inclusive nondiscrimination law, sexual orientation and gender identity are not protected under state hate crimes legislation, no statewide restrictions exist on the practice of conversion therapy, and religious freedom laws are in place.
FUTURE RISK
  • 5
    High Risk
Arkansas has seen a sporadic pattern of discriminatory bill-filing over the past five years. The state also has a law in place that preempts any city from passing an LGBT+-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinance. The future risk of negative events remains high in the state.
Socio-cultural Environment of LGBTQ+ People:

Status of LGBT+ Organizing and Community

Central Arkansas Pride, including Little Rock Pride Fest, launched in 2013. Northwest Arkansas Pride, which is centered in Fayette-ville, celebrated its 15th year in 2019 and is the largest in the state. Batesville, Jonesboro, Harrison, and other areas of the state also have pride events.

Lucie’s place, the state’s only LGBT+-specific shelter for young adults, opened in 2012.

“The Pink House” in Conway, AR, which was owned by the gay couple who organized the city’s first pride parade and operated their home as a home for LGBT+ youth rejected by their family, is at risk of being lost; the owner who inherited it from the late couple can’t afford the upkeep. The local gay community has rallied around the cause.

 Cultural Views of the LGBT+ Community

66% of state residents favor LGBT+ nondiscrimination laws.

46% oppose – and the same number favor –  LGBT+ discrimination based on religion.