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
There are no statewide nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ+ people in South Dakota. Changing the gender markers on a birth certificate requires a court order, and a driver’s license requires either a court order, an amended birth certificate, or an affidavit from a doctor attesting to a medical gender transition. However, there are non-discrimination policies in certain cities that include sexual orientation and gender identity. More cities are also exploring home-rule status, which would allow more inclusive non-discrimination policies to be passed.
It’s legal to discriminate against potential adoptive parents on religious grounds. Conversion therapy is legal in the state. There are no protections for youths in foster care, specifically, though there are more general rules stipulating that social services clients can’t be subject to discrimination.
South Dakota has a religious exemption law as of 2021. The state’s Governor and U.S. Senators have a track record of speaking and legislating against LGBTQ+ equality
There are no hate crimes protections on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. HIV exposure is considered a felony.* Trans healthcare is only covered for public employees in a few towns and counties, and it’s specifically banned from the state health plan.
13% of transgender employees in South Dakota reported being harassed in the past year due to their gender identity, and 19% report mistreatment such as being told to present in the wrong gender in order to keep a job. 29% of LGBTQ+ individuals in South Dakota reported food insecurity, almost triple the rate for non-LGBTQ+ people (12%). Up to 30% of LGBTQ+ individuals in South Dakota reported making less than $24,000 per year. 15% of LGBTQ+ individuals report unemployment in South Dakota, five-times the rate for non-LGBTQ+ people (3%).
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 LGBTQ+ 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 LGBTQ+ 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 (LGBTQ+ and Non-LGBTQ+ 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 (LGBTQ+ vs Non-LGBTQ+).
States in the Midwest region included: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.
Legal Status of the Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Community
Legal Status of the Transgender Community
Government Statements and Actions
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 LGBTQ+ Organizing and Community
Sioux Falls, the biggest city in the state, held its first pride parade in 2019. There are about nine other pride festivals or events throughout South Dakota.
Cultural Views of the LGBTQ+ Community