MAP’s Equality Maps provide a detailed snapshot of the current state of LGBTQ laws and policies in the United States. In this regularly changing landscape, these are the state and local policy updates as of March 2023.
▸▸ State Policy Updates
(The links in the policy updates below take you to relevant coverage, the Equality Map for an issue, or the Equality Profile for a state.)
- Michigan passed a bill adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the state’s nondiscrimination law — covering employment, housing, public accommodations, and education.
This codifies protections into law that were recently affirmed by a 2022 Michigan Supreme Court ruling — protections that a future court ruling could have overturned without this bill. Michigan’s governor signed the bill into law on March 16, a day that state advocates have been working toward for over 50 years.
- New reporting by ProPublica revealed that Alaska recently rescinded its nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people in many areas. For more context, see below.
In December 2020, the state’s civil rights agency announced it was interpreting the state’s nondiscrimination protections based on sex to also apply to discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity — following the logic of the Supreme Court’s Bostock decision. This added new protections for LGBTQ Alaskans in employment, housing, public accommodations, credit/lending, education, adoption/foster nondiscrimination, and protections for youth in the child welfare system.
In August 2022, under conservative pressure on the governor during the election cycle, the state agency rescinded its guidance for all areas but employment (the subject of the Bostock ruling). This was a huge loss for LGBTQ Alaskans, and affected our maps on:
- Housing nondiscrimination
- Public accommodations nondiscrimination
- Credit and lending nondiscrimination
- Education nondiscrimination
- Adoption and foster care nondiscrimination
- Protections for LGBTQ youth in the child welfare system
- Our Snapshot map — which includes maps depicting our overall state Sexual Orientation Tallies and Gender Identity Tallies — as this development moved Alaska from “Fair” to “Low” on all three of those summary maps.
Identity document laws and policies
Illinois enacted improvements to its process for updating the gender marker on birth certificates. Illinois was already in the best category on our map for this policy, but this change removes even more barriers.
Identity Document Laws and Policies: Birth Certificates
Accurate and consistent gender markers on identity documents help transgender people gain access to public spaces and resources.
LGBTQ-inclusive family policies
Illinois also enacted a new law requiring paid leave for all workers, for any reason.
Our maps track whether states have family/medical leave laws and, if so, whether they define “spouse” and “child” in LGBTQ-inclusive ways (i.e., not dependent on legal or biological relationships).
Family Leave Laws for Spouses/Partners
State family leave laws govern whether a person can take leave from work to care for their spouse or partner. Definitions of spouse or partner can be narrow or broad.
Because the new Illinois law allows paid leave for any reason, this applies for family/medical reasons and applies irrespective of relationship definitions, so we’ve updated our map to reflect these new protections for Illinois workers.
Medical care for transgender youth
- Bans on best practice medical care for transgender youth were enacted in South Dakota, Florida, Mississippi, and Tennessee.
Including Utah’s ban earlier this year, five states have enacted bans in 2023 alone. There are currently eight states total with a ban. As a result, more than 12% of transgender youth (ages 13–17) live in a state with one of these bans.
- Additionally, Arkansas — the first state to enact any medical care ban for youth — just enacted a second law, SB199.
The state’s first ban was temporarily blocked by court order while the lawsuit unfolds. This second law attempts to get around that injunction by providing new civil avenues, among other provisions.
- Mississippi’s new ban on medical care for transgender youth also banned the state’s Medicaid program from covering transgender-related care for minors.
That ban was enacted shortly after the state’s Medicaid director sent a letter to the major insurers in the state saying that Mississippi agrees with Florida’s Medicaid determination that minors should not have access to best practice medical care.
- Missouri’s attorney general announced an “emergency regulation” on March 20 to effectively ban best practice medical care for transgender youth. He cited no specific legal statute granting him such authority, and this effort’s legality remains in question.
Missouri is one of three states where steps have been taken (beyond introducing a bill) to ban or restrict best practice medical care for transgender youth, but state law does not ban this care. Our map will continue to be updated as this situation unfolds.
Bans on sports participation for transgender youth
- In a reversal of February’s development, the ban on transgender athletes in West Virginia has again been temporarily blocked — this time by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals. The law is still on the books, but for now it is unenforceable, which allows transgender youth in the state to play sports.
- In Wyoming, a ban on transgender youth participation in sports for grades 7–12 became law without the governor’s signature. Wyoming is the 19th state with a sports ban, and this moves the state from “Low” to “Negative” in MAP’s gender identity tally.
In a letter released by the Republican governor, he noted the hardships faced by trans youth, including high rates of bullying, discrimination, and suicide, and that Wyoming faces the nation’s highest suicide rates. He also noted the ban’s likely expense to taxpayers through lawsuits and further said, “While I support and agree with the overall goal of fairness in competitive sports, I am concerned that the ban included in this legislation is overly draconian, is discriminatory without attention to individual circumstances or mitigating factors, and pays little attention to the fundamental principles of equality…”
For context, the last two sports participation bans, including Wyoming’s, to become law have both been without a governor’s signature (see Louisiana’s ban enacted in 2022).
- In Kansas, the governor vetoed — for the third year in a row — a ban on transgender youth participation in sports. The bill now heads back to the legislature for a potential veto override attempt.
Education policies for LGBTQ youth
- Arkansas enacted a new “Don’t Say Gay or Trans” school censorship law, applying to grades K-4. It was part of a 145-page education “reform” bill that also contained extensive provisions censoring discussions of race, creating voucher programs, and more.
See this local reporting for more discussion of the law’s many provisions.
LGBTQ Curricular Laws
LGBTQ-related curricular laws are important for LGBTQ students' health, well-being, and academic success.
- Iowa formerly had explicit guidance for the treatment and inclusion of transgender students. This was first issued in October 2017 and was publicly available until at least January 2022. As early as March 2022, the page was replaced with a notice saying the guidance was “being reviewed for continued legal accuracy in light of recent court decisions,” though did not reference which court decisions.
Now, the page and that notice have both been entirely removed, and no other similar state-issued resources are available on the state’s website. As a result, it seems that Iowa has quietly rescinded or at least removed this guidance, and we’ve updated our map to reflect this.
Safe Schools Laws: Nondiscrimination
School nondiscrimination laws protect LGBTQ students from discrimination in school, including being unfairly denied access to facilities, sports teams, or clubs on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Religious exemption laws
Religious Exemption Laws
Targeted state religious exemption laws permit people, churches, non-profit organizations, and sometimes corporations seek exemptions from state laws that burden their religious beliefs.
Generally speaking, this type of law permits people, churches, non-profit organizations, and sometimes corporations to seek exemptions from state laws that they believe burden their religious beliefs. The individual person or organization must seek out the exemption, such as through court proceedings.
West Virginia is now the 24th state in the U.S. with such a law.
Restrictions on drag performances
With a new drag restriction and a medical care ban both enacted this month, Tennessee has now fallen to last place on our LGBTQ Policy Tally rankings, with a score of -10.5 (out of 42.5).
Note that MAP’s scores and rankings only reflect a state’s legislative environment, and low or negative scores are not a reflection of the incredible work of state advocates and equality groups; in fact, low or negative scores indicate the need for even further support of these groups.
Anti-LGBTQ bills awaiting decisions
In addition to the updates above, there are multiple anti-LGBTQ bills on governors’ desks. Our relevant maps will be updated if and when these bills are enacted. Note that the following may not be an exhaustive list, as bills are moving rapidly.
- Medical care bans for transgender youth are awaiting a decision from the governors in Iowa (SF538), West Virginia (HB2007), and Georgia (SB140).
- New and burdensome requirements for birth certificate changes in Utah (SB93).
- An omnibus anti-transgender bill in Kentucky (SB150) with many harmful provisions, including but not limited to: banning schools from using a transgender student’s pronouns; promoted outing of transgender students; a school bathroom ban for transgender students; a “Don’t Say Gay or Trans” law for all grades K-12; and — added in amendments at the eleventh hour — a medical care ban for transgender youth.
▸▸ Updates to LGBTQ Equality Maps
Our LGBTQ policy team has also revised two maps to reflect emerging developments.
- Medicaid Coverage of Transgender-Related Care Map
A new category has been added to reflect that some states now have transgender-exclusive policies that are specific to youth only.
In the past, states have had policies that exclude transgender-related care in general, but now, some of the newly enacted bans on medical care for transgender youth also include bans on Medicaid coverage of this care for youth.
- Bans on Best Practice Medical Care for Transgender Youth Map
A new category has been added to better reflect how Arizona’s current ban applies to surgical care only. In other states, bans apply to both medication and surgical care.
▸▸ New LGBTQ Equality Maps
MAP recently released two maps tracking newly emerging anti-LGBTQ laws:
2023 has brought a resurgence of efforts to limit free speech and expression in the form of drag performances. This map currently highlights Tennessee’s new law restricting drag performances.
While this law and other bills like it across the country have often been called drag bans, such bills and laws are usually more accurately described as restrictions. These efforts vary and are all harmful; they generally restrict the places where drag can be performed or they subject places that host drag to harsher rules and regulations.
Many of these bills also prescribe criminal penalties. We’ve added restrictions on drag performances to our “Criminal Justice” category of laws. You can see all the categories and the laws within each category for any state profile.
This map depicts laws that explicitly require school staff — and in some cases, any government or public employee — to out transgender youth to their families, often without regard for whether doing so might put the child at risk of harm.
These provisions are often included in bans on medical care for transgender youth, and similar language is frequently found in school-focused bills.
▸▸ MAP’s LGBTQ Equality Bill Tracker
To continue highlighting trends across the country, included below are our current bill-tracking counts for LGBTQ-related bills in state legislatures.
Note that these counts may differ from other organizations or public counts for a variety of reasons, and this work is greatly facilitated by the leadership and work of other organizations including the Equality Federation and their member state groups.
As of March 21, 2023:
At least 580 anti-LGBTQ bills have been introduced across at least 45 states
- This is an increase of 170 bills compared to our February 2023 bill-tracking report.
- Note: Louisiana still has not yet begun its state legislative session.
At least 132 anti-transgender medical care ban or related bills have been introduced across at least 33 states
- This is an increase of 28 bills compared to February 2023.
At least 67 anti-transgender athlete/sports ban or related bills have been introduced across at least 27 states
- This is an increase of 9 bills compared to February 2023.
At least 47 anti-drag bills have been introduced across at least 17 states
- This is an increase of 9 bills compared to February 2023.