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

Virginia has comprehensive LGBTQ+ nondiscrimination protections. Gender markers can be changed on birth certificates and driver’s licenses without gender affirmation surgery.

20 / 20
Youth & Family Support

Conversion therapy is banned in Virginia. Adoption agencies can decline to work with LGBTQ+ people if it conflicts with their religious beliefs. There are no explicit protections for LGBTQ+ children in foster care.

17.00 / 20
Political & Religious Attitudes

Virginia’s U.S. Senators and Governor support LGBTQ+ rights. The state has a religious freedom law, and targeted religious exemptions for child welfare services.

14.40 / 20
Health Access & Safety

The state’s hate crime protections do not include sexual orientation or gender identity. The state Medicaid plan does include transgender healthcare coverage. Failure to disclose HIV status prior to engaging in sexual activity is a misdemeanor.

16.5 / 20
Work Environment & Employment

12 % of transgender employees in Virginia report being harassed at work, and 27% report mistreatment such being forced to use a restroom not matching their gender. 27% of LGBTQ+ Virginians report food insecurity, more than double the rate for non-LGBTQ+ Virginians (13%).

14 / 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
  • 3.9% of Virginians identify as LGBTQ+. Conservatively, that's LGBTQ+ personal income of $18.9 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 $10,796 to replace an employee in Virginia, and it can cost up to $486,800 to replace senior executives. Virginia and the businesses operating there have strong 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 Virginia continue to foster a business environment where being inclusive is supported.
  • Virginia has a regressive attitude towards trans people when it comes to healthcare and hate crimes protections. Treating trans people as unequal makes us look complicit if we choose to do business in Virginia – 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

  • 2
    Low Risk
Companies incur low risk to their brands by operating in Virginia, where there are no statewide LGBTQ+ inclusive nondiscrimination protections, but the governor and senators are vocally pro-LGBTQ+.
  • 2
    Low Risk
There is low risk of LGBTQ+ or strong ally clients pulling their business from companies operating in Virginia in light of the state’s business climate and reputation.
  • 3
    Moderate Risk
LGBTQ+ professionals might consider Virginia’s legal and social environment unfriendly. Though insurance must cover transgender healthcare, there is no statewide LGBTQ+ inclusive nondiscrimination law, and there are religious exemptions in child welfare, both of which could make working in Virginia unattractive to LGBTQ+ talent.
  • 3
    Moderate Risk
Marketing to the LGBTQ+ community in Virginia is moderately risky, as attitudes toward LGBTQ+ people vary widely between urban and rural areas and the political conversation around LGBTQ+ equality hasn’t made much progress recently.
  • 1
    No Risk
The state has no recent discriminatory laws on the books, and volume of discriminatory legislation filed has diminished significantly in recent years. 2019 saw a change in the state legislature to a pro-equality majority, and in 2020 the state enacted a statewide nondiscrimination law. We assess no risk of a negative event.
Socio-cultural Environment of LGBTQ+ People:

Status of LGBTQ+ Organizing and Community

  • There are a multitude of LGBTQ+ organizations dedicated to expanding protections for the Virginian LGBTQ+ community.
  • Pride season in Virginia occurs across the region and continues through the fall. Many individuals in Northern Virginia have access to the Washington DC pride festivities. Other festivals occur throughout the state, including in Richmond. Corporate sponsors include large banks and insurance companies as well as local businesses.

Cultural Views of the LGBTQ+ Community

  • Despite religious exemptions, public opinion in Virginia is in favor of greater equality. According to a 2017 poll, 60% of Virginians are in favor of same-sex marriage, and 69% favor non-discrimination laws covering the LGBTQ+ community.
  • That same poll found that only 32% of respondents were in favor of a religious exemption to refuse services to members of the LGBTQ+ community.