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
Gender marker changes on birth certificates require a doctor’s signature but no surgery. Changing them on a driver’s license requires a name change and a gender designation form signed by a doctor, but the latter requirement goes away in 2020.
Conversion therapy for minors was banned in 2018. There’s no explicit language preventing same-sex couples wishing to adopt from experiencing discrimination on religious grounds. Science-based sexual health education in Hawaii’s public schools is sporadic and minimal. School health nurses are not allowed to distribute condoms.
Both of Hawaii’s U.S. Senators and its governor have a long track record of speaking and voting for pro-LGBT+ causes. Hawaii’s Governor David Ige is a Shin Buddhist, as is Senator Mazie Hirono. The remainder of the Congressional delegation is split between Judaism, Hindu, and mainline Protestant Christian (Representative Case), who has a long and strong record of pro-LGBT votes, including when the state was vociferously debating same-sex marriage. Nonetheless, there is still a deeply conservative current in Hawaii’s social and religious fabric, much of it given force by fundamentalist Christianity, Roman Catholicism, and Mormonism.
The state has hate crimes protections that cover sexual orientation and gender identity. State and private insurance are both banned from discriminating against LGBT+ people and must cover transgender-related healthcare. HIV exposure is not criminalized.* Unfortunately, there’s a deep-seated culture of homophobia in state and local law enforcement that hasn’t been adequately addressed.
14% of transgender employees in Hawaii reported being harassed in the past year due to their gender identity, and 22% report mistreatment such as having someone at work share private information about their gender. 37% of LGBT+ individuals in Hawaii report food insecurity, more than double that of the non-LGBT+ population (14%). Up to 25% of LGBT+ individuals in Hawaii report making less than $24,000 per year. 3% of LGBT+ individuals report unemployment in Hawaii, notably less than the rate among 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
Hawaii has a comprehensive nondiscrimination law inclusive of sexual orientation and gender identity.
The state’s 2011 Safe Schools Act also introduced specific protections against bullying and harassment based sexual orientation and gender identity.
State employees have been protected from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation since 1991, and protections were expanded in 2011 to include gender identity.
There are no explicit restrictions against same-sex adoption, nor against allowing adoption agencies to discriminate against potential LGBT+ parents on religious grounds.
Both same-sex parents can be represented on a child’s birth certificate. Hawaii’s presumed parentage law, combined with its marriage equality law, define a married same-sex couple as the child’s parents, by default.
Hawaii does not have a Religious Freedom Restoration Act. However, past state court decisions interpret the state’s religious liberty protections as requiring strict scrutiny, similar to an RFRA.
Hawaii does not criminalize knowing exposure to HIV/AIDS.
Hawaii’s hate crime protections cover sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.
Conversion therapy for minors was banned in 2018.
Legal Status of the Transgender Community
According to the Williams Institute, Hawaii has the highest number of trans persons on a per capita basis
To amend the gender marker or name on a birth certificate, applicants must submit a $3 fee and a notarized affidavit from a physician attesting that the person has had “appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition.” This doesn’t require surgery.
To change the name or gender marker on a driver’s license, the applicant must first change their name with the Social Security Administration and then submit a court order certifying it and a “gender designation form” completed by a physician or therapist. Starting in July 2020, the state will recognize a non-binary gender option and do away with the medical documentation and name change requirements.
Transgender healthcare is covered under Hawaii’s Medicaid. Since 2016, Hawaii has prohibited public and private insurers from denying or limiting coverage for healthcare related to gender affirmation services provided the policy offered that coverage from the get-go.
State law bans discrimination by private insurers on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Hawaii law explicitly prohibits discrimination based on gender identity in public accommodations.
Government Statements and Actions
A bill that would create an LGBTQ Commission in the state passed the House in February 2020. The commission would identify issues facing the community and ensure that there are plans created to address them.
There are currently no out LGBT state legislators, with the last having come out during the same-sex marriage debate in 2014 (Blake Oshiro).
There is a bill pending in the State House (2017 HB 823) that would, similar to an RFRA, prohibit the state or any county from “burdening” any person’s right to exercise religion unless that burden is the least restrictive means of furthering a compelling governmental interest.
U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, apologized in a YouTube video in January 2019 for her history of anti-LGBT+ stances. She no longer holds those views and is supportive of full LGBT+ equality, she said.
The U.S. Supreme Court declined in March 2019 to hear an appeal by a Hawaii Bed & Breakfast owner who refused to rent a room to a lesbian couple because it conflicted with her religious beliefs. State courts ruled against the innkeeper multiple times before the nation’s highest court declined the case.
Hawaii Attorney General Clare Connors joined 22 other state AGs in July filing an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court to argue that federal antidiscrimination laws should protect LGBT+ employees.
The Hawaii State Department of Health has issued two sexual and gender minority reports in recent years (2017, 2018). The latter addressed transgender youth, containing some troubling figures about the challenges transgender youth face compared with cisgender and LGB peers. It also features some good background information on traditional non-binary gender identity in Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander cultures.
In recent years the Hawaii Tourism Authority has commissioned LGBT travel studies to attract LGBT tourists from the U.S., Canada, Australia, China, Japan, and Taiwan.
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
Honolulu’s annual pride parade celebrated its 29th year in October 2019. The 2019 parade had a record of over 30,000 attendees. Whether or not there will be an in-person 30th anniversary parade is still undecided due to the coronavirus.
Cultural Views of the LGBT+ Community
64% of Hawaiians oppose allowing small business owners to discriminate against LGBT+ people on religious grounds.
73% of Hawaiians support LGBT+ anti-discrimination laws.