LGBT+ Business Climate Score

Out Leadership’s Business Climate Index for the 50 United States is an assessment of states’ performance on LGBT+ inclusion. It measures the impact government policies and prevalent attitudes have on the LGBT+ 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.

41.9

out of a possible 100 points

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Legal & Nondiscrimination Protection

Gender confirmation surgery is required to update gender markers on birth certificates and driver’s licenses. There is no statewide legislation explicitly protecting LGBT+ people from discrimination, but in practice various policies have been interpreted as providing it and 12 municipalities offer some protections at the local level.

7 / 20
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Youth & Family Support

Childcare agencies that accept state funding must have policies that protect LGBT+ youths from discrimination. LGBT+ single parents and same-sex couples can adopt in the state. There is no ban on conversion therapy.

10 / 20
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Political & Religious Attitudes

Kentucky has one republic U.S. Senator, whose record on LGBT+ rights falls along party lines, and a newly elected democratic U.S. Senator, Andy Beshear, who took office in December 2019 and who is expected to have a pro LGBT+ speaking and voting stance. The state does have a religious exemptions law.

7.2 / 20
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Health Access & Safety

HIV status is a felony in cases of prostitution or tissue donation. Positive HIV status has also been successfully prosecuted under general law.* There are hate crimes protections on the basis of sexual orientation but not gender identity.

10.67 / 20
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Work Environment & Employment

14% of transgender employees in Kentucky reported being harassed in the past year due to their gender identity, and 28% report mistreatment such as being told to present in the wrong gender in order to keep a job. 34% of LGBT+ individuals in Kentucky reported food insecurity, double the rate for non-LGBT+ people (17%). Up to 34% of LGBT+ individuals in Kentucky reported making less than $24,000 per year. 11% of LGBT+ individuals report unemployment in Kentucky, almost double the rate for non-LGBT+ people (6%).

7 / 20
A Note on Methodology

Download this report to learn how and why Out Leadership created the LGBT+ Business Climate Index for the 50 U.S. States, with important details about our methodology, including our data standards and practices.

Our Methodology
Talking Points
  • 3.4% of Kentuckians identify as LGBT+. Conservatively, that’s LGBT+ personal income of $6.3 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 $8,482 to replace an employee in Kentucky, and it can cost up to $325,000 to replace senior executives. Kentucky and the businesses operating there have strong financial incentives to create inclusive workplaces in the interest of keeping these costs down.
  • Nondiscrimination policies allow LGBT+ people to participate more fully in the economy.
  • 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 Kentucky continue to foster a business environment where being inclusive is supported.
  • State leaders should set a welcoming, not a stigmatizing tone.
  • Kentucky has a regressive attitude towards trans-inclusive health coverage. Treating trans people as unequal makes us look complicit if we choose to do business in Kentucky – equality is good for everyone’s bottom line.
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Impact of LGBT+ 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 LGBT+ 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 Kentucky, where there are no statewide LGBT+ inclusive nondiscrimination protections and the state’s U.S. senators have significant track records of stand vocally against LGBT+ interests.
CLIENT RISK
  • 5
    High Risk
There is notable risk of LGBT+ or strong ally clients pulling their business from companies operating in Kentucky in light of the state’s business climate and reputation.
TALENT RISK
  • 4
    Notable Risk
LGBT+ talent are likely to consider Kentucky’s legal and social environment unfriendly. There is no statewide LGBT+ inclusive nondiscrimination law, and transgender people are de facto required to have surgery in order to change gender markers, both of which make working in Kentucky unattractive to LGBT+ professionals.
MARKETING RISK
  • 3
    Moderate Risk
There is moderate risk involved in marketing to the LGBT+ community in Kentucky, where there is no statewide LGBT+ inclusive nondiscrimination law, and legislative progress on LGBT+ equality has stalled in recent years.
FUTURE RISK
  • 4
    Notable Risk
The state has seen a decline in discriminatory bills filed in recent years, but it does have one religious exemption law on the books, related to membership in state college student groups. There remains a notable risk of future negative events.
Socio-cultural Environment of LGBT+ People:

Status of LGBT+ Organizing and Community

  • – Southern Kentucky saw its first-ever pride event in 2019, a response to the town of Somerset voting down a potential anti-discrimination law. And Eastern Kentucky’s first-ever pride celebration was in 2018.
  • – Louisville has hosted an LGBT+ pride event since 1987. 20,000 people attended in 2019.
  • – Kentucky got its first LGBT+-related historical markers in 2018.

 Cultural Views of the LGBT+ Community

  • – Though visibility and acceptance are rising, Kentucky remains a state where a barbecue joint selling an anti-LGBT+ t-shirt isn’t universally panned: after the shirt made the news in April 2019, they reportedly sold out and ordered more.
  • – 58% of residents oppose allowing small business religious exemptions.
  • – 59% of Kentuckians favor LGBT+ antidiscrimination laws.