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
Individuals can amend gender markers on either birth certificates or driver’s licenses without surgery. Sexual orientation and gender identity fall under the state’s antidiscrimination protections.
Conversion therapy for minors has been banned since 2015. Youths in foster care are protected against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Illinois does not provide state funding to adoption agencies that discriminate against potential LGBT+ parents on religious grounds, but it doesn’t ban agencies from opting to forego that funding to do so.
The state’s elected officials have long and consistent records of supporting and voting for LGBT+ equality and inclusion. The state does have a religious exemption law, but it’s balanced out by strong antidiscrimination protections.
Hate crimes protections cover sexual orientation and gender identity. Knowing transmission of HIV is considered a felony.* Insurance must cover transgender healthcare, and on January 1, 2020, the state effectively made gender confirmation surgery coverage mandatory under Medicaid.
18% of transgender employees in Illinois reported being harassed in the past year due to their gender identity, and 26% report mistreatment such as being forced to use a restroom not matching gender. 24% of LGBT+ individuals in Illinois reported food insecurity, nearly double the rate among non-LGBT+ people (14%). Up to 26% of LGBT+ individuals in Illinois reported making less than $24,000 per year. 6% of LGBT+ individuals report unemployment in Illinois, which is the same rate as that for non-LGBT+ people.
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.
Only 50.8% of LGBT+ workers in the Midwest are out at work. They are only slightly more comfortable being open with their managers than other regions (14% more likely), but they are the least likely to cover their identity at work (17% less likely than nationwide). This could be due to the Midwest having the lowest rates for observing microaggressions (23% less likely) and hearing or engaging in negative conversations on average. However, workers in this region do not typically go out of their way to do business with inclusive companies (21% less likely than the nation as a whole). This is primarily driven by those who live in more rural areas where respondents were 85% less likely to do business with companies that are inclusive.
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 Midwest region included: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.
Current Legal Status of LGBT+ people
Legal status of the Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Community
The Illinois Human Rights Act protects sexual orientation and gender identity from discrimination in employment and accommodations. The law has applied to workplaces with more than 15 employees. As of July 1, 2020, it will apply to companies with one or more employees. Certain religious organizations remain exempt.
The Illinois Foster Child and Youth Bill of Rights states that all youths in foster care have the right to be free from discrimination or harassment due to their sexual orientation or gender identity.
In August 2019, Governor J.B. Pritzker signed an expansion to the Jury Act to include sexual orientation as a protected category for excluding an otherwise qualified person from jury selection.
Illinois does not provide state funding to adoption agencies that discriminate against same-sex couples on religious grounds.
Illinois has a religious exemption law, which says the state can’t “substantially burden” a person’s exercise of religion unless it is the least restrictive means of furthering a compelling governmental interest.
Knowingly transmitting HIV is a Class 2 felony in the state.
Hate crimes protections extend to sexual orientation and gender identity.
Conversion therapy for minors was banned in 2015.
Public schools must include LGBT+ history in their curricula as of August 2019.
As of 2020, LGBT+ senior citizens will be considered priority for aging programming, a change that will also make it illegal to discriminate in nursing homes on the bases of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Legal status of the Transgender Community
Transgender people can amend the gender markers on birth certificates by submitting an affidavit and a form signed by a physician or therapist.
Individuals can change gender markers on a driver’s license by filling out a form.
Illinois Medicaid includes coverage for transgender care, including hormone treatment and surgery. It has explicitly covered gender affirmation surgery since late December.
Illinois prohibits insurance companies from excluding transgender healthcare from coverage.
In July 2019, Governor Pritzker signed a bill requiring that, effective January 1 2020, all single-stall bathrooms in the state be deemed gender-neutral.
Illinois approved a nonbinary option for state IDs and driver’s licenses in 2019, but it can’t be instituted until the state’s system for issuing the cards is updated, which could take until 2024.
Government statements and actions
In 2018, Lori Lightfoot won the election for mayor of Chicago, making her the highest-ranking lesbian mayor in history.
Governor J.B. Pritzker has been steadily signing bills expanding the rights of LGBT+ people in Illinois since taking office in January 2019.
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.
Socio-cultural Environment of LGBT+ people
Status of LGBT+ Organizing and Community
2019 marked the 50th annual Chicago Pride Parade.
7.5% of Chicago’s population identifies as LGBT+. That’s about 3% higher than the national and the state average.
Cultural Views of the LGBT+ Community
56% of Illinois residents oppose allowing small businesses to discriminate against LGBT+ people on religious grounds.
74% of Illinois residents favor LGBT+ nondiscrimination protections.