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 from March 15 through May 5, 2023.
This year we’ve seen a horrifying record number of political attacks on LGBTQ people, and especially on transgender people — with more than 700 anti-LGBTQ bills introduced just in 2023. The contents of this month’s update include the following:
— State Policy Updates
- In this dispatch, we detail new laws in several key areas of political attacks on LGBTQ people in recent months, including bans on sports participation for LGBTQ youth, laws banning trans students from using school bathrooms, forced outing of transgender students, bans on medical care for transgender people, and more.
- Several states now rank in lower categories in their LGBTQ equality tally scores after passing new anti-LGBTQ laws.
- Certain states have enacted positive LGBTQ laws despite an otherwise harsh political climate, and some saw an increase in their LGBTQ Equality tally ranking.
— Local Level Policy Updates
— MAP’s LGBTQ Equality Bill Tracker with a count of the overall anti-LGBTQ bills introduced so far this year, and the count by several categories of bills.
▸▸ State Policy Updates
LGBTQ school censorship laws
Eight states have laws that censor what schools can say about LGBTQ people and issues.
- March 29: In Kentucky, the legislature overrode the governor’s veto of a multi-faceted anti-trans law which includes a Don’t Say Gay/Trans law for grades K-12, as well as multiple other provisions discussed throughout this update.
- April 19: In Florida, the state Board of Education approved the governor’s request to expand the existing “Don’t Say Gay/Trans” curriculum censorship law from K-3 to now all K-12.
Bans on sports participation for transgender youth
At least 30% of transgender youth now live in the 21 states where they are banned from participating on sports teams consistent with their gender identity.
- March 17: Wyoming’s governor allowed a sports ban to become law without his signature. It applies to grades 7–12.
- April 5: The Kansas governor vetoed a sports ban for the third year in a row, but this year the legislature overturned her veto. The law applies to K-12 and college.
- April 11: in North Dakota, the governor signed two separate bills into law, one for K-12 and another for college.
Bans on transgender students using school bathrooms and facilities
To date, eight states ban transgender students from using school bathrooms that match their gender identity. At the beginning of 2023, only three states had laws with this kind of ban.
- March 21: Arkansas
— Arkansas’ ban is the first that allows individual teachers or school staff to be fined (as opposed to fining the school itself or the district) if they allow transgender students to use a bathroom consistent with their gender identity. Teachers and staff are subject to fines of a minimum of $1,000 per occurrence.
- March 22: Iowa
- March 22: Idaho
- March 29: Kentucky
- April 25: North Dakota’s ban applies only to state college dormitories and state correctional facilities, not K-12.
School Nondiscrimination and Safe Schools Laws
This map highlights states that ban students from using school bathrooms and facilities consistent with their gender identity.
Forced outing of transgender students in schools
The following states recently enacted laws that promote or encourage the outing of transgender students:
- March 22: Idaho
- March 29: Kentucky’s bill also included language about the safety of the student, which may mitigate the potential for outing.
Bans on medical care for transgender youth (and adults)
To date, 18 states have enacted bans on medical care for transgender youth. As of this update, more than 1 in 5 transgender youth — as well as all transgender adults in Missouri — live in states where medically necessary health care is effectively banned (or will be, if and when the bans go into effect).
Since March 13, the following states have enacted bans on medical care for transgender youth:
- March 13: Arkansas (takes effect 90 days after legislature adjourns)
— Arkansas was the first state to enact a ban on medically necessary care for transgender youth back in April 2021, but that law is blocked by a court order while a lawsuit unfolds — which means that, in the meantime, transgender youth should be able to access care in the state. The Arkansas legislature enacted this new law to try to block this health care in another way.
- March 22: Iowa (effective immediately)
- March 23: Georgia (takes effect July 1, 2023)
- March 29: Kentucky (takes effect 90 days after legislature adjourns)
— This ban became law after overriding the governor’s veto.
- March 30: West Virginia (takes effect January 1, 2024)
- April 4: Idaho (takes effect January 1, 2024)
— This ban also creates felony criminal charges for providing medically necessary care.
- April 5: Indiana (takes effect July 1, 2023)
— The ACLU has already filed a lawsuit challenging the law.
- April 13: Missouri’s ban on medical care for transgender youth is also the first state nationwide to effectively ban care for all transgender adults.
— The unelected attorney general issued “emergency regulations” imposing harsh rules that will effectively prevent people from accessing care, if and when the ban goes into effect. The law was set to go into effect on April 27, though Lambda Legal and ACLU of Missouri filed a lawsuit that has already led to a temporary block on the rule until at least July 24. The rule will expire on February 6, 2024.
- April 19: North Dakota (effective immediately)
— This ban also includes felony criminal charges for providing gender-affirming surgical care, and misdemeanor charges for prescriptions (e.g., hormones).
- April 28: Montana (takes effect October 1, 2023).
— Montana is also the first state with an explicit provision about social transition. The law bans any state facilities (including schools and more) from promoting or advocating the use of social transition, in addition to banning medically necessary care. This language could make it difficult, if not impossible — depending on interpretation and implementation — for schools to be able to use transgender students’ names and pronouns, even with parental consent, among other implications.
- May 1: Oklahoma (effective immediately)
— This ban also includes felony punishment for providers of gender-affirming care.
Identity document laws and policies
- March 23: Utah enacted new, burdensome requirements for changing the sex marker on birth certificates, effectively requiring medical documentation or “proof” of “sex transitioning.”
- April 7: North Dakota enacted new requirements that all birth certificates must include a sex marker, and that only “male” or “female” are allowed options — effectively banning gender-neutral “X” options. North Dakota is the second state to do so, following Oklahoma
Religious exemptions laws
- March 30: North Dakota enacted a broad religious exemption law, also known as a “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” (RFRA). They are now the 25th state with such a law.
Decline in state tally scores and categorizations
Due to passage of dozens of anti-LGBTQ laws around the county, several states have declined in MAP’s tally for LGBTQ Equality. These rankings reflect the actions of state lawmakers and are in no way a reflection on the organizations and individuals advocating for LGBTQ equality in each of these states.
- Georgia now has a “Negative” rank on our Overall LGBTQ Equality Tally, following its medical care ban for transgender youth.
- Iowa now has a “Low” rank on our Gender Identity Tally, following its medical care ban and school bathroom ban.
- North Dakota now ranks “Low” on our Gender Identity Tally, following its new religious exemption law. The state then went on to enact other anti-LGBTQ laws.
- Idaho now ranks “Negative” on our Gender Identity Tally, following its school bathroom ban and medical care ban for trans kids.
- Indiana has a “Negative” rank on our Gender Identity Tally, following its medical care ban for trans kids.
- Kentucky now ranks “Negative” on our Gender Identity Tally, following its new law combining multiple anti-transgender provisions.
- Wyoming now ranks “Negative” on our Gender Identity Tally, following its ban on trans kids playing sports.
Efforts to block or fight anti-LGBTQ laws
- Governor Laura Kelly of Kansas vetoed at least six anti-trans laws: a medical care ban, transgender youth sports ban, and several more.
- On April 26, the legislature failed to override her veto on the medical care ban, which marks the first successful veto of an anti-transgender medical care ban.
- Governor Andy Beshear of Kentucky vetoed a multi-faceted anti-transgender law that combined a Don’t Say Gay/Trans censorship law, a medical care ban for transgender youth, a school bathroom ban, a law promoting outing of transgender youth at schools, and more. It was ultimately overturned, but the veto was an important statement.
- Tennessee’s first-of-its-kind restriction on drag performances has been temporarily blocked by court order.
- New lawsuits opposing medical care ban laws were filed in Indiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, Kentucky, and Tennessee (here for more on the Department of Justice joining that lawsuit).
— In Missouri, a lawsuit filed to block the state’s “emergency regulations” on medical care has already won a delay of the proposed rule, as well as a temporary restraining order on the rule, moving its effective date from April 27 to at least July 24, with the possibility of a more permanent or longer delay at that time.
Newly enacted, positive LGBTQ laws
Click on each link to go directly to the relevant Equality Map.
- Oregon expanded its domestic partnership law to be available to all couples (i.e., not only same-sex couples).
- New Mexico enacted multiple positive laws, including:
— Removing the former requirement that people publish notifications of their legal name change. This change helps protect the safety of transgender people and others changing their name.
— Expanding and modernizing the state’s nondiscrimination laws, including adding sexual orientation and gender identity protections in school nondiscrimination law.
- Two states took action on conversion “therapy,” with Utah enacting a legislative ban that codifies an existing administrative ban, and Minnesota becoming the 21st state (plus Washington, D.C.) to ban this dangerous and discredited practice.
Conversion “Therapy” Laws
Conversion "therapy" laws prohibit licensed mental health practitioners from subjecting LGBTQ minors to harmful practices that attempt to change their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Increase in state tally scores and categorizations
New positive LGBTQ laws in multiple states have increased those states’ respective tallies for LGBTQ Equality.
- New Mexico moved to “High” on our Gender Identity Tally, following the removal of its requirement for publishing legal name changes and its expansion of state nondiscrimination laws.
- Minnesota moved to “High” on our Sexual Orientation Tally, following its ban on conversion “therapy.”
▸▸ Local Level Policy Updates
▸▸ 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 May 1, 2023, the count of anti-LGBTQ bills so far in 2023 is:
- At least 705 anti-LGBTQ bills have been introduced across at least 47 states.
— This is an increase of 125 bills compared to our March 2023 bill-tracking report.
- At least 145 anti-transgender medical care bans or related bills have been introduced across at least 35 states.
- At least 74 anti-transgender sports participation bans or related bills have been introduced across at least 30 states.
- At least 54 anti-drag bills have been introduced across at least 19 states.