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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.

Helping speed equality
for LGBT people
By Strengthening the Movement for Change
Through Rigorous Data and Analysis
With Messaging and Communications Tools

Our Work

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans simply want the same chance as everyone else to earn a living, be safe in their communities, serve their country, and take care of the ones they love. MAP's policy and issue analyses demonstrate how current laws stand in the way of this very simple goal. MAP also provides detailed recommendations about what can be done to make things better.

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The movement for LGBT equality is making progress, but it requires hard work by organizations, allies and funders. These advocates are more effective when they have information that helps them better coordinate their activities and strategically apply resources. MAP provides information and analysis about the health and capacity of the LGBT movement, helping advocates better deliver results.

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Research shows that most Americans simply don't understand the inequalities faced by LGBT people. They also don't understand how these inequalities can adversely affect gay and transgender people's lives. MAP provides messaging guides and resources that can help Americans better understand the disparities facing LGBT people, the need for change, and the importance of action to support LGBT equality.

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Unequal treatment under the law can prevent LGBT Americans from being able to fully participate in American life. Gay and transgender employees have no explicit federal protections from workplace discrimination. In nearly 15 states, the law doesn't recognize the relationships of same-sex couples, meaning that they face unfair treatment when it comes to bereavement, family leave and medical decision-making.

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Featured Reports

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.

Talking About Religious Exemptions & Service Discrimination

Several states have proposed legislation to allow businesses to discriminate against customers who don’t conform to the specific religious beliefs that marriage should be restricted to a man and a woman, and that sex should be restricted to such marriages. Learn how to have effective conversations and broaden people's understanding of these laws and how they encourage discrimination against same-sex couples, unmarried couples and individuals, single parents, and others.

Talking About Religious Exemptions & Adoption Discrimination

Some states have introduced legislation to create broad religious exemptions allowing discrimination in taxpayer-funded adoption and foster care services. Such laws would allow adoption agencies and child services workers to make decisions for children in their care based on their religious beliefs, rather than the best interests of the child. Learn how to talk about these harmful laws which deprive children of loving homes.

Invisible Majority: The Disparities Facing Bisexual People and How to Remedy Them

Bisexual people are frequently swept into the greater LGB community, their specific disparities made invisible within data about the whole community. This report focuses on the “invisible majority” of the LGBT community, the nearly five million U.S. adults who identify as bisexual and the millions more who have sexual or romantic attraction to people of more than one gender.

Unjust: How the Broken Criminal Justice System Fails LGBT People

Pervasive stigma and discrimination, biased enforcement of laws, and discriminatory policing strategies mean that LGBT people are disproportionately likely to interact with law enforcement and to have their lives criminalized. LGBT people are also treated unfairly once they enter the system; this report shows how they are overrepresented in jails and prisons and face abuse while incarcerated.

New TV Ad: Restaurant

Debuting July 21 on FOX News Channel, this groundbreaking new TV ad created by MAP depicts the challenges transgender people face in accessing public restrooms when our laws don’t protect them from discrimination. For more on the campaign, visit

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