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
Delaware has strong nondiscrimination protections on the basis of both sexual orientation and gender identity. Delaware allows transgender individuals to amend their gender markers on birth certificates and drivers’ licenses relatively easily.
Delaware bans conversion therapy and does not restrict in-school discussions of LGBT+ issues. Though there are not broad nondiscrimination protections for LGBT+ youth in schools, anti-bullying protections are in place.
Delaware’s U.S. Senators and Governor are all supportive of LGBT+ rights, though a few of them have evolved on the issue over time. The state’s nondiscrimination laws allows for exemptions, but only for religious institutions.
Delaware has strong hate crime protections in place for both sexual orientation and gender identity. Private insurers are barred from discriminating against people due to sexual orientation or gender identity and the State bans transgender exclusions by insurers, however, state Medicaid has no explicit policy regarding transgender health coverage and care. There is no specific HIV criminalization statute.
12% of transgender employees in Delaware reported being harassed in the past year due to their gender identity, and 20% reported mistreatment such as being forced to use a restroom not matching their gender. 39% of LGBT+ people in Delaware report food insecurity, more than double that of the non-LGBT+ population (17%). LGBT+ unemployment (12%) is double that of non-LGBT+ unemployment.
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.
The Northeast has the lowest percentage of those who are out at work (49.6%). LGBT+ workers in urban environments, however, do feel slightly more comfortable talking about their personal lives vs urban LGBT+ workers for the rest of the country (17% more likely than nationwide). Workers in this region are more likely to hear or engage in negative conversations about LGBT+ people at work. Particularly for the non-LGBT+ group, which is 23% more likely to report observing or experiencing negative conversations about LGBT+ people vs the nation as a whole. Despite being more likely to hear negative conversations at work, workers in this region are the least likely to say that they hear this negativity from state leadership. They are 61% less likely to report that leadership in their state talks about LGBT+ people in predominantly negative terms. Like most regions, there is a strong difference between urban and rural audiences, especially for the self-rated importance of team diversity when looking for jobs. LGBT+/Allies living in Rural areas care the least about diverse teams when looking for jobs (49% less likely than nationwide). Finally, audiences in the Northeast were 20% more likely to list “Supporting LGBT+ Pride celebrations” as one of their top 3 ways businesses can demonstrate their support for the community.
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 Northeast region included: Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont.
Legal status of the Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Community
Delaware has a comprehensive nondiscrimination law inclusive of sexual orientation and gender identity, which applies to housing, employment, insurance, public accommodations and public works contracting.
The state’s anti-bullying and harassment laws protect LGBT+ students.
Delaware law permits any unmarried adult or married couple to petition a court for adoption of a child. The state does not permit secular adoption agencies to decline – prospective parents based on religious beliefs, although religious institutions may claim an exemption.
Second parent adoption is permitted, and both parents of a same sex couple can be represented on a birth certificate.
Surrogacy contracts are legal for same sex couples.
Delaware’s hate crime laws have specified sexual orientation as a protected class since 2001, and gender identity since 2013.
The state banned conversion therapy for minors in 2018.
Legal status of the Transgender Community
To amend a birth certificate, Delaware requires an affidavit from a medical or mental health professional stating that the applicant has had surgical, hormonal, psychological or other treatment appropriate for the individual for the purpose of gender transition. Neither surgery nor name change are required.
If someone wishing to amend the gender marker on a driver’s license is also planning a name change, the latter must be completed first. A licensed provider must sign a specific request form for the gender marker change.
Delaware bans insurance exclusions for transgender healthcare, and therefore requires insurance to cover gender affirmation surgery.
Government statements and actions
An executive order issued on August 11, 2009 protects employees of the state’s executive branch departments and agencies from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Delaware was the 11th State to legalize marriage equality, two years before Obergefell v. Hodges did so nationally.
In 2013, former Governor Jack Markell signed legislation adding gender identity and expression to the state’s anti-discrimination and hate crimes protections.
In 2018, Democratic Governor John Carney signed a law banning gay conversion therapy for minors in the state, making Delaware the 15th state to have done so.
In 2018 Senator Chris Coons observed Pride Month by speaking out against President Trump’s anti-LGBT+ judiciary nominees. “Far too many of President Trump’s nominees have distinguished themselves for their statements disparaging the LGBT+ community and supporting discrimination,”he “We need judges that Americans can trust to ensure equal protection and due process for LGBT+ citizens, and that’s why I’m hoping to shine a spotlight on these nominees before they’re given lifetime judicial appointments.”
At a 2011 celebration for the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, Coons described the repeal as “one of the biggest steps forward we’ve made for equality.”
He also said that Republican opponents of LGBT+ equality “profoundly misread the young people of America, who are far more open and tolerant, welcoming, and inclusive than generations before them, particularly around LGBT+ issues.”
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
Delaware has an active LGBT+ community, particularly in connection with the statewide celebration of Pride Month. Festivals and events occur throughout the month of June in Wilmington, Rehoboth Beach, and other municipalities.
CAMP Rehoboth, an LGBT+ organization and resource center in Rehoboth Beach, hosts a variety of programs and support groups. Its list of LGBT+ resources includes over 20 statewide organizations supporting LGBT+ issues like wellness, HIV/AIDs, and legal justice.
Delaware had its first-ever state pride parade June 2019. The 2020 version was canceled due to the COVID-19, but the 2021 celebration is already booked.
Cultural Views of the LGBT+ Community
As of 2017, a poll found that 58% of Delaware residents supported same-sex marriage. The same poll also found that 68% of Delawareans supported an anti-discrimination law covering sexual orientation and gender identity, while 21% were opposed. 60% of respondents opposed a religious based refusal to serve LGBT+ People, with only 28% in favor.
In 2018, a proposed regulation would have required transgender children to get their parents’ permission to attend school in their chosen gender. It was eventually shelved after thousands of people made public comments on both sides of the proposal.