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.
out of a possible 100 points
There are no statewide nondiscrimination protections for LGBT+ 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.
There is no religious exemption law in South Dakota. The state’s Governor and U.S. Senators have a track record of speaking and legislating against LGBT+ 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 LGBT+ individuals in South Dakota reported food insecurity, almost triple the rate for non-LGBT+ people (12%). Up to 30% of LGBT+ individuals in South Dakota reported making less than $24,000 per year. 15% of LGBT+ individuals report unemployment in South Dakota, five-times the rate for non-LGBT+ people (3%).
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
The legal and cultural situation for LGBT+ people varies widely across the country. This map, based on each state's total Business Climate Score, illustrates the states where LGBT+ 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 State LGBT+ Business Climate Index is financially supported 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 LGBT+ workplace inclusion, informing the Regional Context section of the State CEO Briefs. America Competes supported the development of the scoring for the Risk Assessments detailed below, 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 March and April 2019. The full results will be launched in the spring of 2020; we are able to share preliminary regional comparisons in this brief.
Only 50.8% of LGBT+ 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 (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 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
There are no statewide nondiscrimination protections covering sexual orientation or gender identity.
State employees are not protected from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, but some counties and cities have passed local protections.
South Dakota permits child placement agencies to deny service based on religious objections.
However, the South Dakota Department of Social Services has a policy that its “staff, programs and policies must not discriminate against clients or applicants for services because of actual or perceived race, color, sex, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, religion or national origin.”
Intentional exposure to HIV is considered a class 3 felony, punishable by up to 15 years of imprisonment and an optional fine of $30,000. “Intentional exposure” covers anything from sexual contact to blood or organ donation to sharing needles. Actual transmission of HIV not required to trigger prosecution.
There are no hate crimes protections on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
There is no ban on conversion therapy in South Dakota.
Legal Status of the Transgender Community
It requires a court order to amend the gender markers on a birth certificate.
Changing the gender markers on a driver’s license requires a court order, an updated birth certificate, or a signed affidavit from a physician stating the applicant’s gender has been medically altered.
Trans healthcare coverage isn’t specifically banned under the state’s Medicaid program or in private insurance coverage, but it isn’t protected or mandated either.
The South Dakota state health plan specifically excludes coverage for services or drugs related to gender confirmation.
Government Statements and Actions
In July 2019, the Oglala Sioux Tribe legalized same-sex marriage and in September 2019 it approved hate crime legislation aimed at fighting attacks against LGBT+ people. There are currently efforts to pass similar legislation across all 9 tribal reservations in the state.
In 2017, the Governor of South Dakota signed into law a bill that allows adoption agencies to deny services and child placement based on religious objections and prohibits the state from taking adverse action against an agency that does so.
Four anti-trans bills were introduced in the 2019 legislative session, but none of them passed. The bills proposed making it illegal to teach about gender dysphoria in public schools, requiring students to participate in sports by birth certificate gender markers, and limiting trans minors’ access to gender-affirming healthcare.
The Oglala Sioux Tribe legalized same-sex marriage in July 2019, the first tribe in the state to do so.
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.
Status of LGBT+ 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.
The state is considered easy fodder for anti-LGBT+ lobbyists, making every legislative session subject to the introduction of multiple discriminatory bills – 16 in the past few years alone. Only one ended up passing, a result that is credited to outspoken trans advocates in the state.
There are at least three state-wide organizations (ACLU of SD, Transformation SD and Equality SD) that advocate for LGBTQ+ people/rights. The cities of Sioux Falls, Rapid City and Pierre all have local LGBT+ volunteer organizations.
Most of the colleges/universities have Gay/Straight alliances or a diversity center.
Cultural Views of the LGBT+ Community
40% of South Dakotans favor allowing small businesses religious exemptions to discriminate against potential LGBT+ customers.
66% of South Dakotans favor nondiscrimination laws that would protect LGBT+ people.