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 specific procedures for changing gender markers on birth certificates or driver’s licenses. There are general corrections processes available, but they leave the outcome heavily up to judicial discretion. There are no state-wide nondiscrimination protections on the basis or sexual orientation or gender identity.

4 / 20
Youth & Family Support

There is no ban on conversion therapy in South Carolina. There are no LGBTQ+ anti-discrimination protections for youths in foster care, and potential LGBTQ+ adoptive parents can be rejected on religious grounds by state-licensed agencies.

10.73 / 20
Political & Religious Attitudes

The state’s U.S. Senators and its Governor consistently speak and vote against LGBTQ+ equality and inclusion. The state has a religious exemptions law.

6.4 / 20
Health Access & Safety

Knowingly exposing someone to HIV is a felony in the state.* There are no hate crimes protections for sexual orientation or gender identity. There are no specific laws banning transgender health coverage for public employees or for state Medicaid, but there also aren’t any laws protecting or mandating it.

5.5 / 20
Work Environment & Employment

19% of transgender employees in South Carolina reported being harassed in the past year due to their gender identity, and 25% reported mistreatment such as being told to present in the wrong gender in order to keep a job. 36% of LGBTQ+ individuals in South Carolina reported food insecurity, almost double the rate among non-LGBTQ+ people (18%). Up to 28% of LGBTQ+ individuals in South Carolina reported making less than $24,000 per year. 11% of LGBTQ+ individuals report unemployment in South Carolina, more than twice the rate for non-LGBTQ+ people in the state (5%).

7 / 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
  • 3.5% of South Carolina residents identify as LGBTQ+. Conservatively, that’s LGBTQ+ personal income of $7.6 billion – it’s a market my business can’t afford to ignore.
  • When LGBTQ+ 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 $8,448 to replace an employee in South Carolina, and it can cost up to $389,000 to replace senior executives. South Carolina and the businesses operating there have strong financial incentives to create inclusive workplaces in the interest of keeping these costs down.
  • Nondiscrimination policies allow LGBTQ+ people to participate more fully in the economy.
  • Millennial and Gen Z consumers prefer to do business with companies with LGBTQ+ friendly advertising and policies – 54% say they’re more likely to choose an LGBTQ+ inclusive brand over a competitor – which is why it’s important that South Carolina continue to foster a business environment where being inclusive is supported.
  • State leaders should set a welcoming, not a stigmatizing tone.
  • South Carolina 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 South Carolina – 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

  • 5
    High Risk
Companies incur high risk to their brands by operating in South Carolina, where there are no statewide LGBTQ+ inclusive nondiscrimination protections and elected officials are still trying to circumvent marriage equality.
  • 5
    High Risk
There is notable risk of LGBTQ+ or strong ally clients pulling their business from companies operating in South Carolina in light of the state’s business climate and reputation.
  • 5
    High Risk
LGBTQ+ professionals are very likely to consider South Carolina’s legal and social environment unfriendly. There is no statewide LGBTQ+ inclusive nondiscrimination law, and the state has discriminatory policies on gender marker changes and transgender healthcare, both of which make working in South Carolina unattractive to LGBTQ+ talent.
  • 5
    High Risk
There is notable risk involved in marketing to the LGBTQ+ community in South Carolina, where there is no statewide LGBTQ+ inclusive nondiscrimination law, sexual orientation and gender identity are not protected under state hate crimes legislation, and no statewide restrictions exist on the practice of conversion therapy.
  • 4
    Notable Risk
The state has seen a decline in discriminatory bills filed in recent years, but it does have a child welfare religious exemption law on the books. There remains a notable risk of future negative events.
Socio-cultural Environment of LGBTQ+ People:

Status of LGBTQ+ Organizing and Community

The state’s biggest pride festival, called “Famously Hot SC Pride”, is celebrating its 32nd anniversary in 2022. The festival, based in Columbia, saw north of 85,000 attendees in 2019.

Cultural Views of the LGBTQ+ Community

44% of South Carolina residents favor allowing small-business religious exemptions that discriminate against LGBTQ+ people.

68% of state residents favor the passage of nondiscrimination laws that protect LGBTQ+ people there.