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
Louisiana has no statewide nondiscrimination laws protecting people on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Two cities provide these protections at a municipal level, and three others provide them only to public employees. It’s possible to amend gender markers on driver’s licenses and birth certificates, but they both require physician sign-off that the applicant has had gender confirmation surgery.
There is no ban on conversion therapy in Louisiana. There are no laws restricting same-sex couples from adopting, but there are also no laws that keep adoption agencies from refusing them on religious grounds. Children in foster care are protected from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation but not gender identity.
The state’s two U.S. Senators have extensive records of voting and speaking in ways that seek to halt LGBT+ equality and inclusion. The current Governor consistently supports LGBT+ equality and inclusion. Louisiana has a Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Knowing transmission of HIV is a felony punishable by up to a decade in prison.* Hate crimes laws cover sexual orientation but not gender identity. The state doesn’t require trans health coverage for either public or private insurers.
15% of transgender employees in Louisiana reported being harassed in the past year due to their gender identity, and 29% report mistreatment such as having someone at work share private information about their gender. 33% of LGBT+ individuals in Louisiana reported food insecurity, compared to 21% of non-LGBT+ people. Up to 33% of LGBT+ individuals in Louisiana reported making less than $24,000 per year. 12% of LGBT+ individuals report unemployment in Louisiana, nearly double the rate for non-LGBT+ people (7%).
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.
LGBT+ workers in the Southeast are the most likely to be out at work (54.4%), but they are also 25% more likely to feel that covering behaviors are important for workplace success. More broadly, non LGBT+ workers in this region preferred for businesses to demonstrate their support for the LGBT+ community using internal initiatives (like hiring more LGBT employees and creating more inclusive HR policies). However, this group was 57% less likely to approve of more public demonstrations of support (like withdrawing sponsorship from sporting events in less inclusive areas). LGBT+ workers in this region are 39% more likely to support inclusive businesses and 17% more likely to consider LGBT+ friendliness in making spending decisions compared to the non-LGBT workers nationwide. However, there is a perception that state leadership speaks about the LGBT+ community in a more negative way (39% more likely than nationwide), which could partially explain why LGBT+ workers in the Southeast are 19% more likely to say that they would be open to moving to a state with better LGBT+ support.
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 Southeast region included: Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.
Legal status of the Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Community
Louisiana does not have statewide non-discrimination laws inclusive of sexual orientation or gender identity. New Orleans and Shreveport have those protections; Alexandria, Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Lake Charles, and Jefferson offer similar protections only to public employees.
Children in foster care are protected from discrimination based on sexual orientation but not gender identity.
There are no laws restricting same-sex married couples from adopting. The state had a prohibition in place, but it was ruled unconstitutional in 2014. Under current Louisiana law, same-sex married couples must be able to adopt under the same terms and conditions of opposite sex married couples.
Louisiana does not have a law allowing adoption agencies to discriminate based on religious beliefs, but it also does not have a prohibition on adoption agencies discriminating based on religious beliefs.
A 2016 Louisiana law prohibits surrogacy contracts for same-sex couples.
Louisiana has a Religious Freedom Restoration Act that prohibits the government from substantially burdening a person’s exercise of religion unless it is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest and is the least restrictive means of furthering such interest. A “person” includes an individual, a church, association of churches or religious order, and nonprofit religious organizations. The law allows religious freedom to be used as a defense in lawsuits between private citizens.
In Louisiana, knowingly exposing another person to HIV is punishable by up to 10 years in prison (with or without hard labor) and/or a $5,000 fine. If the plaintiff is a first responder, the penalties rise to 11 years and/or $6,000. Defendants must also register as sex offenders.
Louisiana’s hate crime law includes sexual orientation and perceived sexual orientation, but does not include gender identity.
Louisiana does not have a ban on conversion therapy.
Legal status of the Transgender Community
To update the gender marker on a birth certificate, an individual must receive a court order, and the court requires proof of surgery. After receiving a court order, the person must apply for a new birth certificate by submitting a certified copy of the court order, a copy of the original birth certificate, a copy of a driver’s license or photo ID, and a check or money order to Louisiana Vital Records.
To update the gender marker on a driver’s license, an individual must submit a statement signed by a physician stating that the individual has completed a successful gender change or reassignment (the word “surgery” isn’t used in the policy).
Louisiana has no explicit policy regarding transgender health coverage, which means it doesn’t require it, nor does it prohibit insurance companies from excluding transgender healthcare.
Government statements and actions
Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards tried to enforce LGBT+ non-discrimination laws for all public employees through an executive order in 2016. A state court threw out the order and, in 2018, the state’s Supreme Court declined to hear his appeal.
Shortly after taking office, Edwards rescinded an executive order from predecessor Bobby Jindal that allowed state agencies and businesses that get public funding to deny services to LGBT+ people on religious grounds.
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
New Orleans is regularly deemed one of the most welcoming cities in America for LGBT+ people.
New Orleans’s annual LGBT+ event, Southern Decadence, has been going on annually for 48 years and regularly attracts upwards of 250,000 attendees.
The city also has a pride parade that was to celebrate its 10th anniversary in 2020 but was canceled due to COVID-19.
Cultural Views of the LGBT+ Community
There was a fight in Lafayette in 2018 over whether the library should be allowed to hold “drag queen story time,” which a religiously conservative group claimed promoted “transgenderism” as a religious belief system. The library initially banned the story hour but later backtracked.
51% of Louisiana residents oppose allowing small businesses to discriminate against LGBT+ people on religious grounds.
63% of Louisianans favor LGBT+ discrimination protections.
In April 2019, a straight Mississippi man was beaten so severely his jaw was broken in two places because attackers thought he was gay.