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Sexual Orientation Policy Tally

The term “sexual orientation” is loosely defined as a person’s pattern of romantic or sexual attraction to people of the opposite sex or gender, the same sex or gender, or more than one sex or gender. Laws that explicitly mention sexual orientation primarily protect or harm lesbian, gay, and bisexual people. That said, transgender people who are lesbian, gay or bisexual can be affected by laws that explicitly mention sexual orientation.

Gender Identity Policy Tally

“Gender identity” is a person’s deeply-felt inner sense of being male, female, or something else or in-between. “Gender expression” refers to a person’s characteristics and behaviors such as appearance, dress, mannerisms and speech patterns that can be described as masculine, feminine, or something else. Gender identity and expression are independent of sexual orientation, and transgender people may identify as heterosexual, lesbian, gay or bisexual. Laws that explicitly mention “gender identity” or “gender identity and expression” primarily protect or harm transgender people. These laws also can apply to people who are not transgender, but whose sense of gender or manner of dress does not adhere to gender stereotypes.

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Unequal treatment under the law can prevent LGBT Americans from being able to fully participate in American life. LGBT employees have no explicit federal protections from workplace discrimination in more than half of the states. While other states have worked to advance laws allowing workers to take paid leave from work to care for a child, to ban harmful conversion therapy practices on youth, and other protections.

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Open to All is nationwide public engagement campaign to build understanding and discussion about the importance of protecting people from discrimination—and the bedrock principle that when businesses open their doors to the public, they should be Open to All.

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Featured Reports


2018 LGBT Community Center Survey Report

The 2018 LGBT Community Center Survey Report surveyed 128 centers located in 40 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, and provides a crucial snapshot of the centers that provide vital services, programs and advocacy for LGBT people. The 2018 report finds that local community centers serving lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people provide vital information, education, and health services to over 45,000 people each week.

Putting Children at Risk: How Efforts to Undermine Equality Harm Children

This report shows two overarching strategies to undermine marriage for same-sex couples and protections for LGBT parents, and shows how these coordinated efforts pose a profound threat to the children in LGBT families. These license to discriminate efforts are reflected in legislation, court cases, and agency guidance around the country.


Dignity Denied: Religious Exemptions and LGBT Elder Services

Religious exemptions laws jeopardize the security and safety of LGBT older adults, who rely on many religiously affiliated organizations for services like congregate meals, skilled nursing, and health care.

Understanding Masterpiece Cakeshop And similar cases about service refusals

In June 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Masterpiece Cakeshop vs. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. This guide offers background on the case, the Court's ruling, and similar cases about service refusals.

Issue Brief: The Broader Dangers of the Masterpiece Cakeshop Case

This issue brief provides an analysis of the legal questions in the case, and the broad legal implications the case will have on people color, women, minority faiths, people with disabilities and others.

Infographic: Masterpiece Cakeshop: The Dangerous Right-to-Discriminate Case

This infographic was designed as part of the Open to All campaign and shows how a loss in Masterpiece would open the door to much wider ranging forms of discrimination and a wider array of people facing discrimination. It could lead to the erosion of federal and state nondiscrimination protections across the country. Learn more at www.OpentoAll.com

LGBT Policy Spotlight: Conversion Therapy Bans

This report offers an overview of laws protecting LGBT youth from conversion therapy practices that attempt to change their sexual orientation or gender identity. These practices, which may include techniques such as shaming, hypnosis, inducing vomiting, and electric shocks, have been widely discredited and renounced, including by groups like the American Psychological Association. The brief also includes policy recommendations to ban harmful conversion therapy practices.

Unjust: LGBTQ Youth Incarcerated in the Juvenile Justice System

This report examines how LGBTQ youth who are incarcerated in juvenile detention and correctional facilities face bias in adjudication, and mistreatment and abuse in confinement facilities. LGBTQ youth also lack supportive services when leaving the criminal and juvenile justice systems, often forcing them back into negative interactions with law enforcement.

Mapping Transgender Equality in the United States

To help make sense of the current policy landscape in the states, this report looks at legal equality for transgender people across the country. The gender identity tally is comprised of 25 state laws and policies in five key categories: Non-Discrimination, LGBT Youth, Health and Safety, Ability to Correct the Name and Gender Marker on Identity Documents, and Adoption and Parenting.

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