Tips and Tricks to Navigating MAP’s Equality Maps

Movement Advancement Project
4 min readSep 23, 2020

As a result of the uneven and uncertain progress for LGBTQ equality, LGBTQ people in America face an almost incomprehensible patchwork of laws. An LGBTQ individual or family may have high levels of legal equality in one state, while their LGBTQ counterparts in a neighboring state face only hostile or negative laws.

On issues from nondiscrimination to criminal justice to identity documents to health care, MAP’s Equality Maps provide a quick, yet detailed snapshot of the current state of LGBTQ laws and policies at the federal, state, and local levels. As of October 1, 2020, MAP tracks nearly 40 LGBTQ-related laws and policies in all 50 states, D.C., and the five U.S. territories.

MAP’s Equality Maps and in-depth policy tallies by state help make this patchwork understandable, give an idea of the legislative landscape, and illustrate the gaps in protections across the United States. They also help demonstrate the differences in legal equality based on sexual orientation versus gender identity and expression, and that progress in one area does not necessarily mean progress in the other.

Our tally system is dynamic and updated in real time — meaning that as new laws pass, whether anti-LGBTQ or pro-LGBTQ, we will update the maps and include the new laws in the tally and citation/references sheet available beneath each map, explained below.

Hacks for the Equality Maps

1. Examine nearly 40 laws and policies.

On the Equality Maps Snapshot page, you can explore the nearly 40 LGBTQ related laws and policies we track by selecting “Choose an Issue.” Issues are sorted into eight policy categories that make it easier to find data by subject. Issues can also be sorted alphabetically. You can also look at a particular state’s LGBTQ policy landscape across all the issues by selecting “Choose a State” in the navigation bar.

2. Three tallies help distinguish sexual orientation and gender identity topics.

Policies are evaluated and scored based on their relevance to sexual orientation and gender identity. As a result, each state has three tallies, which are viewable on three maps from the Snapshot page: an Overall Policy Tally, a Sexual Orientation Tally, and a Gender Identity Tally. Having both the sexual orientation and gender identity tallies illustrates how LGBQ-related versus transgender-related policies are differently progressing both within a state and across the country.

3. Check out your state!

You can access state policy tallies in table form by clicking “State Data Table.” This allows you to view all 50 states and territories broken out by the different categories we track and overall tally scores. You can also print the data table as a PDF, which will always include a timestamp of when the data was last updated.

You can also sort the state data table by the different tally scores, as located in these columns:

4. The Equality Maps are dynamic.

Hover over a map and click on a state to access that state’s Equality Profile, which provides a general overview of the state’s LGBTQ population and where it stands on each of the LGBTQ laws and policies that MAP tracks. Don’t forget: you can always view MAP’s methodology by clicking “View Methodology/More Information.”

The state profile rows also link back to each relevant map, so you can easily move back and forth between maps and state profiles.

Pro-tip: from a state’s Equality Profile page, click “Print Quick Facts” to get a PDF of LGBTQ data of the state, as seen here.

5. Our Equality Maps are free to embed!

Click here for directions on how to embed the Equality Maps on your site, or simply select “Embed” in the Equality Maps navigation bar.


  • For information on our methodology and rationale behind the creation of the Policy Tallies, see our Frequently Asked Questions.
  • Read Mapping LGBTQ Equality: 2010 to 2020. This report offers a fresh perspective on the current (as of January 2020) legal status of LGBTQ people and tallies nearly 40 LGBTQ-related laws and policies across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the five U.S. territories.
  • We track laws and policies in the tally based on their relevance to the LGBTQ community and movement, including based on feedback from LGBTQ community members and advocates. If you have a suggestion for LGBTQ policies to add to our tracking, or other ideas for expanding the maps, please email us at



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.