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 inclusive of sexual orientation or gender identity. Changing the gender markers on a birth certificate only requires a court order, but they are visibly amended, not replaced. Changing the gender markers on a driver’s license requires a form signed by a physician.
Conversion therapy is legal in West Virginia. There are no state laws banning or hindering LGBT+ parents from adopting, but there are no protections either. Child welfare employees must take an LGBT+ sensitivity training.
The Governor has spoken out in favor of LGBT+ rights, most notably against the state’s passage of a religious exemptions law. The U.S. Senators have records of speaking and voting against LGBT+ equity and inclusion.
There are no hate crimes protections covering sexual orientation or gender identity. There are no transgender healthcare protections, and the state’s Medicaid plan bans coverage of gender confirmation surgery. HIV exposure or transmission is punishable by up to $100 in fines and 30 days in jail.*
An estimated 16% of transgender employees in West Virginia reported being harassed in the past year due to their gender identity, and 28% report mistreatment such as having someone at work share private information about their gender. 33% of LGBT+ individuals in West Virginia reported food insecurity, almost double the rate for non-LGBT+ people (20%). Up to 39% of LGBT+ individuals in West Virginia reported making less than $24,000 per year. 14% of LGBT+ individuals report unemployment in West Virginia, double the rate for non-LGBT+ people (7%).
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 LGBT+ 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.
LGBT+ workers in the Southeast are the most likely to be out at work (54.4%), but they are also 25% more likely to feel that covering behaviors are important for workplace success. More broadly, non LGBT+ workers in this region preferred for businesses to demonstrate their support for the LGBT+ community using internal initiatives (like hiring more LGBT employees and creating more inclusive HR policies). However, this group was 57% less likely to approve of more public demonstrations of support (like withdrawing sponsorship from sporting events in less inclusive areas). LGBT+ workers in this region are 39% more likely to support inclusive businesses and 17% more likely to consider LGBT+ friendliness in making spending decisions compared to the non-LGBT workers nationwide. However, there is a perception that state leadership speaks about the LGBT+ community in a more negative way (39% more likely than nationwide), which could partially explain why LGBT+ workers in the Southeast are 19% more likely to say that they would be open to moving to a state with better LGBT+ support.
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 Southeast region included: Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.
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 LGBT+ Organizing and Community
Cultural Views of the LGBT+ Community