LGBTQ+ Business Climate Score

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

Legal & Nondiscrimination Protection

There are no statewide nondiscrimination laws inclusive of sexual orientation and gender identity, though there are protections for state employees. Ohio is one of three states that does not permit changing gender markers on birth certificates. It is possible to change gender markers on a driver’s license, but this requires a form signed by a physician stating the applicant is “ready for or has completed” a gender transition (surgery is not required).

9 / 20
Youth & Family Support

Conversion therapy is legal in Ohio. LGBT+ people and couples are permitted to adopt in Ohio, but the non-biological partner in an unmarried couple has no claims to custody absent an official agreement. There are no non-discrimination laws or anti-bullying policies in place to support LGBT+ students in Ohio.

10.33 / 20
Political & Religious Attitudes

Ohio’s laws match federal laws protecting religious expression and the state has not adopted an anti-LGBT+ “religious freedom” law. Both U.S. senators have positive records of supporting LGBT+ issues. Though Governor Mike DeWine recently instated LGBT+ nondiscrimination for state employees, his overall record on LGBT+ rights is poor.

15 / 20
Health Access & Safety

Transgender healthcare can be difficult to access under Medicaid, and the state has no insurance nondiscrimination protections in place for either gender identity or sexual orientation. The state does not ban private insurance companies from excluding transgender healthcare coverage. The state’s hate crimes protections do not cover sexual orientation or gender identity. A positive HIV+ status can result in a felony, and HIV is the only disease specifically criminalized in Ohio’s code.

4 / 20
Work Environment & Employment

19% of transgender employees in Ohio report being harassed in the past year due to their gender identity, and 34% report mistreatment such as being forced to use a restroom not matching gender. 33% of LGBT+ Ohioans report food insecurity, more than double non-LGBT+ Ohioans (16%). LGBT+ unemployment (11%) is more than twice the general rate (5%).

6 / 20
A Note on Methodology

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
Talking Points
  • 4.3% of Ohioans identify as LGBT+. Conservatively, that's LGBT+ personal income of $24.2 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 $9,390 to replace an employee in Ohio, and it can cost over $428,000 to replace senior executives. Ohio and the businesses operating there have strong 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 Ohio continue to foster a business environment where being inclusive is supported.
  • Ohio has a regressive attitude towards trans people when it comes to hate crimes and antidiscrimination protections, healthcare protections, and changing gender markers on official IDs. Treating trans people as unequal makes us look complicit if we choose to do business in Ohio – equality is good for everyone's bottom line.
Impact of LGBTQ+ 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 LGBTQ+ people create business and talent risks, please visit www.outleadership.com/staterisk.

  • 3
    Moderate Risk
Companies incur moderate risk to their brands by operating in Ohio, which lacks discrimination protections but is making clear efforts to be more equitable and welcoming to its LGBT+ residents.
  • 4
    Notable Risk
There is notable risk of LGBT+ or strong ally clients pulling their business from companies operating in Ohio in light of the state’s business climate and reputation, and particularly its regressive birth certificate policy.
  • 3
    Moderate Risk
Ohio still lacks nondiscrimination and hate crime protections, making working there unattractive for LGBT+ professionals.
  • 4
    Notable Risk
The slow rate of progress on equality in Ohio make marketing to LGBT+ people there a notable risk.
  • 2
    Low Risk
State lawmakers appear to have little appetite for discriminatory legislation, and there is some bipartisan support for nondiscrimination protections. The risk of a future negative event is low.
Socio-cultural Environment of LGBTQ+ People:

Status of LGBT+ Organizing and Community

  • Columbus’s annual pride parade attracts over 700,000 attendees.
  • Columbus is actively marketing itself as an LGBT+ destination, with an ad campaign and official website pages and newsletters.
  • Cleveland is vying to improve in HRC’s LGBT+ inclusiveness rankings.

Cultural Views of the LGBT+ Community

  • The number of hate groups active in the state is on the rise, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.