LGBTQ Equality Maps Updates: May 2021

Movement Advancement Project
4 min readMay 13, 2021

MAP’s interactive LGBTQ Equality Maps provide a comprehensive look at the current state of laws and policies impacting LGBTQ people across the United States. The Equality Maps offer a state-by-state comparison of the policy landscape and gaps in protections for LGBTQ people across the country.

To keep you informed on this regularly changing landscape, here are the updates as of May 2021.

ICYMI: Two New Equality Maps & LGBTQ Policy Spotlight Report About Transgender Youth

In case you missed it, we added two new maps to our Equality Maps, tracking new harmful laws states have enacted that target transgender youth: bans on transgender youth participation in sports and bans on best practice medical care for transgender youth.

Equality Map: Bans on Transgender Youth Participation in Sports

Now on the books in eight states, sports bans targeting transgender youth prevent them from participating in school sports consistent with their gender identity:

  • Alabama, Montana and West Virginia are the most recent states to enact laws banning transgender youth from participating in sports.
  • Arkansas passed a second law allowing the state’s attorney general to take legal action against schools that allow transgender youth to participate in sports.

MAP’s new report, LGBTQ Policy Spotlight: Efforts to Ban Health Care For Transgender Youth, provides a deeper overview of the legislative efforts across the country to ban best practice medical care for transgender youth, the harmful impacts these bills could have, and what best practice medical care for transgender youth actually looks like.

Important Updates in the States

Identity Documents

Religious Exemptions

Montana became the second state since 2015 to pass a Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which permits people, churches, non-profit organizations, and sometimes corporations to seek exemptions from state laws that burden their religious beliefs. The legislature rejected an amendment that would have ensured that local nondiscrimination ordinances in the state are upheld.

Update to Alaska’s Equality Ranking

Alaska’s state Human Rights Commission announced that, reflecting the ruling in Bostock, it is now illegal in Alaska to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing, public accommodations, credit and financing, and “practices by the state or its political subdivisions” — which applies to adoption and foster care services, as well as to public education. This development moves Alaska from “low” to “fair” on our overall LGBTQ policy tally.

Advances in Local Communities to Prohibit Discrimination

Local cities and communities continue to make advances in securing vital nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people.

Comprehensive nondiscrimination ordinances were passed in:

  • Hazel Park, Michigan: the 49th municipality in the state with a comprehensive ordinance.
  • Scottsdale, Arizona: the LGBTQ-inclusive ordinance protects nearly 260,000 residents.

Partial nondiscrimination ordinance was passed in:

  • Buncombe County, North Carolina: the ordinance includes sexual orientation and gender identity in employment and public accommodations only. Although housing protections are not included, the ordinance says the county will assist residents in filing complaints of housing discrimination with the state’s housing commission.
  • Asheville, North Carolina: the ordinance takes the same approach as Buncombe County’s, leaving housing discrimination to the state while also committing to assisting residents file those complaints.

Local communities have successfully worked to ban the discredited and harmful practice of conversion “therapy,” including:

Protections in Health Care for LGBTQ People

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced it would restore protections for health care services to include prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. HHS cited last year’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Bostock, which found discrimination on the basis of sex to include discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Learn more about the impact Bostock of on nondiscrimination protections.

Take Action



Movement Advancement Project

MAP is an independent, nonprofit think tank that provides rigorous research, insight and communications that help speed equality and opportunity for all.