An independent non-profit think tank based in the US has created an interactive map to show which states in the US are safest for LGBTQ+ people to live and work – and which are not.
The Movement Advancement Project (MAP) has tracked LGBTQ+ laws and policies across the country, including relationship and parental recognition, nondiscrimination, religious exemptions, LGBTQ+ youth, health care, criminal justice, and accessing identity documents.
It has then scored each state based on those laws and policies – the higher the score, the more protective its laws are towards LGBTQ+ people while the lower the score a state receives, the more harmful its policies are towards LGBTQ+ people. The states are then put into five categories: High, Medium, Fair, Low, and Negative.
States must score between 75 to 100% of possible points to end up in the High category, between 50 to 74.9% for the Medium category, between 25 to 49.9% for the Fair category, 0 to 24.9% for the Low category, and less than zero to be placed in the Negative category.
The interactive map is colour-coded, with states highlighted in red being places where LGBTQ+ people have barely any protection under the law or are actively stopped from living freely as an LGBTQ person and thus have scored negatively on MAP’s criteria. This includes Texas, Arkansa, Oklahoma, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Montana, South Dakota, Missouri, Indiana, Tennessee, South Caroline, and Louisiana.
LGBTQ+ safe states
By comparison, states who score in the highest category are highlighted in green on the map are considered places where LGBTQ+ people are safest and offered the most amount of protection under the law.
The map only reflects current laws and policies. (MAP)
This includes states like California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, New York, Vermont, Illinois, Minnesota, Connecticut, Maine, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Maryland, and Washington D.C.
MAP is keen to stress that their map only reflects existing laws and policies that are already in place and not does include bills currently under consideration by the state legislature nor does it look at how each state enforces these laws.
“These scores are an excellent measure of the current LGBTQ policy landscape across a wide range of issues, but the scores do not necessarily reflect the entire political or social landscape for LGBTQ people,” it writes.
According to the organisation’s research, 27% of the overall LGBTQ+ population in the US currently live in states with low scores while 44% of the overall LGBTQ+ population live in states with high scores.
The think tank was founded in 2006 with the mission to “create a thriving, inclusive, and equitable America where all people have a fair chance to pursue health and happiness, earn a living, take care of the ones they love, be safe in their communities, and participate in civic life”.