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 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.

6.00 / 20
Youth & Family Support

Conversion therapy is legal in West Virginia. There are no state laws banning or hindering LGBTQ+ parents from adopting, but there are no protections either. Child welfare employees must take an LGBTQ+ sensitivity training.

11.13 / 20
Political & Religious Attitudes

The Governor has spoken out in favor of LGBTQ+ rights, most notably against the state’s passage of a religious exemptions law. The U.S. Senators have records of speaking and voting against LGBTQ+ equity and inclusion.

12 / 20
Health Access & Safety

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.*

10 / 20
Work Environment & Employment

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 LGBTQ+ individuals in West Virginia reported food insecurity, almost double the rate for non-LGBTQ+ people (20%). Up to 39% of LGBTQ+ individuals in West Virginia reported making less than $24,000 per year. 14% of LGBTQ+ individuals report unemployment in West Virginia, double the rate for non-LGBTQ+ people (7%).

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
  • 4% of West Virginians identify as LGBTQ+. Conservatively, that’s LGBTQ+ personal income of $2.9 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 $8,280 to replace an employee in West Virginia, and it can cost up to $327,764 to replace senior executives. West Virginia 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.
  • State leaders should set a welcoming, not a stigmatizing tone.
  • West Virginia has a regressive attitude towards transgender-inclusive health coverage. Treating transgender people as unequal makes us look complicit if we choose to do business in West 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 www.outleadership.com/staterisk.

  • 5
    High Risk
Companies incur high risk to their brands by operating in West Virginia. There are no statewide LGBTQ+ inclusive nondiscrimination or hate crimes protections, and the state’s senators have negative voting records on LGBTQ+ issues.
  • 5
    High Risk
There is high risk of LGBTQ+ or strong ally clients pulling their business from companies operating in West Virginia in light of the state’s business climate and reputation.
  • 4
    Notable Risk
LGBTQ+ professionals are likely to consider West Virginia’s legal and social environment unfriendly. There is no statewide LGBTQ+ inclusive nondiscrimination law or hate crimes protections, and no guaranteed trans healthcare protections, all of which make working in West Virginia unattractive to LGBTQ+ talent.
  • 5
    High Risk
There is notable risk involved in marketing to the LGBTQ+ community in West Virginia, where there is no statewide LGBTQ+ inclusive nondiscrimination law, sexual orientation and gender identity are not protected under state hate crimes legislation, no statewide restrictions exist on the practice of conversion therapy, and religious freedom laws are in place.
  • 3
    Moderate Risk
West Virginia has had a low but steady pattern of discriminatory bills filed in recent years, with none becoming law to date. With no statewide nondiscrimination law in place, we assess the state as having moderate risk of future negative events.
Socio-cultural Environment of LGBTQ+ People:

Status of LGBTQ+ Organizing and Community

  • West Virginia’s Rainbow Pride is completely run by volunteers.
  • In 2020, trans plaintiffs filed a class-action lawsuit against the state challenging the ban on Medicaid coverage for gender-affirming healthcare. The state filed for a dismissal but a judge ruled in May 2021 that the case can move forward.

Cultural Views of the LGBTQ+ Community

  • In June 2019, State Senator Mike Azinger wrote a local op-ed decrying LGBTQ+ rights after reading coverage of a pride picnic. The state’s GOP chairwoman, Melody Potter, publicly endorsed his take on social media.
  • When a Pride flag on a church in Morgantown was vandalized multiple times in the leadup to Pride month 2019, church leaders announced that they responded by making a donation to PFLAG.
  • 48% of West Virginians oppose small-business religious exemptions that would legalize anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination.
  • 64% of West Virginians favor LGBTQ+ nondiscrimination protections.