Many LGBTQ people experience discrimination when going about their daily activities–whether eating at a restaurant with their families or friends, trying to obtain safe, clean housing, or applying for a loan. Most people are surprised to learn that federal laws don’t explicitly prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in employment, housing, public accommodations, and more. It is crucial that federal, state, and local nondiscrimination laws are updated to ensure that LGBTQ people participate fully in society and provide for themselves and their families.
The resources on this page examine the landscape of nondiscrimination laws across the United States, the importance of these protections, and how best to have conversations about the importance of nondiscrimination for all people.
August 2023 - The fourth report in this series pinpoints the ways that opponents of LGBTQ equality are eroding existing protections and creating new avenues to allow discrimination.
Policy tallies provide an overview of laws and polices that exist in each state. The major categories of laws covered by the policy tally include: Marriage and Relationship Recognition, Adoption and Parenting, Non-Discrimination, Safe Schools, Health and Safety, and the Ability for Transgender People to Correct the Gender Marker on Identity Documents.
Non-discrimination laws protect LGBTQ people from employment, housing, public accommodations, credit, and other discrimination.
Local employment non-discrimination ordinances protect people from being unfairly fired, not hired, or discriminated against in the workplace by private employers on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation.
State religious exemption laws permit people, churches, non-profit organizations, and sometimes corporations to seek exemptions from state laws that burden their religious beliefs. These laws have recently been used as a defense when businesses discriminate against or refuse service to LGBTQ customers and same-sex couples.
February 2022 - This infographic presents the current patchwork of nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people that exists in housing, public accommodations, education, credit, and health care.
July 2021 - This issue brief details how LGBT older people would benefit from passage of the Equality Act, which would update federal civil rights law to explicitly protect people from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in key areas of life.
May 2021 - The American Jobs Plan creates a unique opportunity to provide vital services and protections for LGBT older people–two populations that too often feel invisible. This info sheet discusses how we can best support LGBT elders through the Americans Jobs Plan.
January 2021 - This report outlines the ways in which the Equality Act is vital legislation not just for LGBTQ people, but also for women, people of color, and immigrants.
November 2020 - This brief highlights 10 actions the Biden administration can immediately start to ensure LGBTQ people and their families can be protected from discrimination.
October 2020 - This series of issue briefs analyze what’s at stake in the Fulton case. Ultimately, a broad ruling in favor of Fulton could leave millions of people without access to needed publicly funded services – and discrimination could become a regular occurrence when seeking needed social services or assistance.
August 2020 - This report examines the potential outcomes of the Fulton v. City of Philadelphia case, which could create a license to discriminate throughout the child welfare system.
December 2019 - This brief analyzes a new proposed rule allowing discrimination in HHS-funded programs and services.
October 2019 - This infographic shows the percentage of people by race living in states without protections who would lose federal workplace protections if the Supreme Court rules that Title VII doesn’t protect LGBT workers.
July 2019 - This brief that describes three cases the U.S. Supreme court will consider in Fall 2019, how the Court could rule, and what the implications of the Court’s rulings could mean for LGBT people not just at work but in all areas of life.
July 2019 - In light of the 29th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ACA), this infographic provides a short summary of what we know about LGBT people with disabilities in the United States.
July 2019 - In light of the three cases the U.S. Supreme Court will consider in October 2019, this infographic shows the "domino" effect of what would happen if SCOTUS rules that Title VII doesn't protect LGBT workers.
July 2019 - In light of the three cases the U.S. Supreme Court will consider in October 2019, this infographic shows what will happen if the court rules that Title VII doesn’t protect LGBT workers.
October 2018 - MAP's latest brief shows how the expansion of the ability of colleges and universities to claim a religious exemption to federal nondiscrimination laws can have a profoundly negative impact on LGBTQ students. These risks include threats of expulsion, increased disciplinary action simply for being LGBT, being denied participation in extracurricular activities, or forced into conversion therapy or counseling.
October 2018 - A new brief examines the existing federal, state and local laws and court rulings that offer protections to LGBT workers as well as the gaps that leave workers vulnerable to discrimination because case law or legislation isn’t clear or explicit. This brief also examines the legal gaps that leave workers vulnerable to discrimination because laws don’t explicitly include the terms “sexual orientation” or “gender identity,” and courts have not interpreted sex discrimination provisions correctly.
September 2018 - Released as part of the new Safe Schools Movement, this new infographic brief from MAP, GLSEN and NCTE highlights the experience of transgender students in school and the laws and policies still needed to ensure transgender students can fully participate in school.
September 2018 - This policy brief, authored by MAP and the Family Equality Council, in partnership with the Child Welfare League of America (CWLA) and the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), offers a snapshot of the impact of discriminatory foster and adoption laws on the thousands of children waiting to be adopted in the seven states where these laws currently exist, the high stakes of passing similar laws in other states, and offers recommendations for supporting children in care.
August 2018 - This new brief details the history, demographics and experiences of LGBT people in the workplace. In addition to outlining the barriers facing LGBT workers because of prejudice, the brief also examines the added challenges facing workers—lower wages, lack of comprehensive immigration reform, barriers to employment for individuals with a criminal record, a changing economic landscape—and how these challenges also impact LGBT employees.
July 2018 - Some of the nation’s largest companies including Yelp and Levi Strauss & Co. joined with more than 1,200 small businesses, the cities of New York and Oakland, and a coalition of more than 190 organizations to unveil a new nationwide Open to All campaign. This initiative is focused on encouraging businesses large and small to join together, to declare that they are “open to all.” To learn more, visit www.OpenToAll.com
July 2018 - When states allow child services decisions to be based on religious beliefs and not the best interests of kids, it’s kids who pay the price. Learn more in this powerful new ad from MAP that FOX News Channel refused to air. For more on the campaign, visit KidsPayThePrice.org.
July 2018 – An amendment to a federal appropriations bill seeks to create a license to discriminate for child welfare providers, prioritizes the interests of providers over the welfare of children, reduces the likelihood that the most vulnerable children will find stability, and cuts more than $1.04 billion to state child welfare budgets. The more than 395,000 children in the child welfare system across the country will pay the price.
June 2018 – In June, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling in the case Masterpiece Cakeshop vs. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. This guide offers background, frequently asked questions and topline messages to facilitate conversations about the case and similar cases about service refusals.
June 2018 – Nursing Home is the latest in a series of ads illustrating the devastating harms many LGBT Americans face because have they no legal protection from discrimination. The new video features an older gay man and his family on the first day he moves into an assisted living facility. When the director of the facility learns the man is gay, he refuses to allow him to move in. No matter their age, and no matter who they love, no one should be turned away from a business or service provider simply because of who they are.
June 2018 – The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the Masterpiece case affirmed that states can protect LGBT people from discrimination. Now it’s time for our nation’s laws to catch up to our nation’s values and protect all Americans from discrimination. Join the campaign to call on businesses to declare that they oppose discrimination and that they are Open to All. Visit www.OpenToAll.com to learn more.
June 2018 – Authored by MAP and the Family Equality Council Putting Children at Risk: How Efforts to Undermine Marriage Equality Harm Children highlights how recent efforts to undermine marriage equality and protections for LGBT families pose a profound threat to the children in these families.
May 2018 - The Power of State Preemption: Preventing Progress and Threatening Equality exposes the coordinated effort to limit municipalities from passing local laws, the special interests motivating these efforts, and the negative impact specifically on LGBT people. The report concludes that when preemption is used in this way to undermine people’s economic security, health, and safety, it jeopardizes local democracy and equality for all.
March 2018 - MAP and the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) released a new report, Religious Refusals in Health Care: A Prescription for Disaster, examining the coordinated efforts at the federal and state level to allow medical providers to legally discriminate and deny needed care. These policies could encourage doctors, hospitals, paramedics, and other medical providers to pick and choose which patients they will treat, and who receives medically-necessary treatment.
March 2018 - To mark the 50th anniversary of the Piggie Park decision, the Open to All campaign, MAP, and the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights released an ad, “Will We Go Back?,” that looks at how the Masterpiececase before the Supreme Court threatens this historic Civil Rights Ruling ruling.
March 2018 - Learn more about the Piggie Park decision and how creating a constitutional license to discriminate in Masterpiece could undermine that historic ruling. “50 Years Ago vs. Today: Piggie Park & The High Stakes of the Masterpiece Cakeshop Case”
March 2018 - "Open to All" is the latest in a series of ads produced by MAP as part of the Open to All public education campaign. The video features Christian small business owners—Howard and Pat—speaking about how nobody should be turned away from a business simply because of who they are.
Updated March 2018 - To explain why the First Amendment Defense Act is so devastating and should not be re-introduced, this brief provides an analysis of the Senate version of FADA introduced in March 2018 and what it could mean for 10 million lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, along with millions of others. The brief underscores how vigilant we must be to ensure that a license to discriminate is not written into our laws.
February 2018 - Inspired by a real legal case, Funeral Home, the latest in a series of ads produced by MAP as part of the Open to All campaign, depicts a grieving widow who has just lost her spouse, and she and her family are turned away from a funeral home and refused burial services for her wife. The ad is meant to show how a loss in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case would open the door to much wider ranging forms of discrimination—including what the grieving widow in the ad faced.
February 2018 -Released in February 2018, a new public education ad, Funeral Home, produced by MAP, depicts a devastating scenario in which a grieving widow and her family are turned away from a funeral home and refused burial services for her wife. This policy brief outlines how the "Funeral Home" ad depicts the high stakes of the Masterpiece Cakeshop case.
Updated March 2018 - Several courts are considering cases brought by LGBT employees who have been discriminated against at work because of their gender identity or sexual orientation. This two page infographic offers an explanation of why Title VII of the Civil Rights Act is so important for LGBT employees and reviews the legal landscape.
January 2018 -MAP’s latest ad, launched alongside the new LGBT Policy Spotlight: Public Accommodations Nondiscrimination Laws report, depicts how transgender people can experience discrimination, harassment and denial of equal treatment in places of public accommodation.
January 2018 - This spotlight report provides a comprehensive overview of the patchwork of federal, state, and local protections against discrimination in public spaces, and how this puts LGBT people at risk.
November 2017 - This video ad illustrates how Masterpiece could lead to a wider array of people—including LGBT people and families of color—facing discrimination, while helping other viewers imagine how they would feel if they faced similar discrimination. The ad was produced by MAP as part of the Open to All campaign. Learn more at www.OpentoAll.com.
November 2017 - This video ad depicts ways in which a decision in favor of the bakery in this case could be used by those who seek to discriminate against LGBT people and others. The ad was produced by MAP as part of the Open to All campaign. Learn more at www.OpentoAll.com.
November 2017 - 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.
November 2017 - MAP Executive Director Ineke Mushovic discusses the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, and how a loss at the Supreme Court would not only open the door to much wider ranging forms of discrimination, but also to a wider array of people who could face such discrimination. This video was produced by MAP as part of the Open to All campaign. Learn more at www.OpentoAll.com.
November 2017 - 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
September 2017 - This report details how religious exemptions for child welfare providers hurt children and vulnerable families. Agencies that provide services to children and parents should focus on providing loving, stable homes for children and helping families in need. Instead, these laws encourage and enable adoption agencies and their workers to reject qualified parents who don’t share the agency’s or worker’s religious beliefs.
April 2017 - Texas House Bill 3859 would allow child-placement agencies to impose their beliefs on and discriminate against children and families while providing taxpayer-funded services. Agencies would be allowed to make placement decisions based on their religious beliefs, hurting the more than 28,000 children in the care of the state, including nearly 7,000 children awaiting adoption.
April 2017 - This new report examines the harmful and unnecessary policies that exclude transgender students from accessing appropriate school facilities. Despite the success of inclusive policies across the country, seventeen states have introduced legislation designed to ensure transgender students are relegated to facilities that align with the sex on their birth certificate, rather than their gender identity.
March 2017 - Alabama House Bill 24 and Senate Bill 145 would allow child-placement agencies to make placement decisions based on their own religious beliefs, hurting the more than 4,745 children in the care of the state of Alabama, including more than 1,020 children who are awaiting adoption. HB24/SB145 would allow agencies to impose their beliefs on and discriminate against children and families while providing taxpayer-funded services.
March 2017 - 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.
THIS REPORT HAS BEEN UPDATED
March 2017 - Read about religious exemption legislation that would allow child placement and adoption agencies to discriminate against loving families while providing government services paid for with taxpayer money. These laws enable adoption agencies and their workers to reject parents who don’t share the agency’s or worker’s religious beliefs, legally prioritizing those beliefs over the best interests of children.
March 2017 - 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.
March 2017 - Senate Bill 149 allows child-placement agencies to make placement and child treatment decisions based on their own religious beliefs, as opposed to following standards that advance the best interests of children. SB 149 would allow child-placement agencies to impose their beliefs on others and to discriminate against children and families, all while providing services paid for with taxpayer money.
February 2017 - 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.
January 2017 - As part of ongoing efforts to protect transgender people from discrimination, there is growing momentum to ensure that transgender students have a fair chance at educational success. This guide provides high-level messaging to help build support for policies and laws that protect transgender students and their ability to access school facilities that match their gender identity.
Updated January 2017 - Learn about conversation approaches that can help build and sustain solid, lasting support for LGBT nondiscrimination laws, and also factually and effectively address concerns that might be raised when discussing the need for such protections. En español: Cómo hablar sobre protecciones antidiscriminatorias para personas LGBT
July 2016 - The Facts: Bathroom Safety, Nondiscrimination Laws, and Bathroom Ban Laws provides a thorough and rational discussion of the legal landscape pertaining to nondiscrimination laws, bathroom ban laws, and restroom safety.
May 2016 - Read about approaches for effective conversations about harmful religious exemptions that threaten not only laws that protect LGBT people from discrimination, but also access to health care (including women's reproductive health), public safety, and more.
Noviembre 2015 - Encontrará enfoques comprobados para ayudar a construir y mantener un apoyo sólido y duradero a favor de leyes antidiscriminatorias para personas LGBT y también aborda de manera objetiva y eficaz las dudas que podrían surgir cuando se habla de la necesidad de tener tales leyes.
October 2015 - LGBT Policy Spotlight: Nondiscrimination Protections for LGBT People examines federal, state, and local laws protecting LGBT people from discrimination, the perfect tool to educate everyone from elected officials to classmates to family and friends about the important need for basic protections.
October 2015 - LGBT Policy Spotlight: Local Employment Nondiscrimination Ordinances examines city and county nondiscrimination ordinances (NDOs) that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in private employment. The report details where these ordinances are geographically, their growth over time, and the gaps in coverage that remain.
April 2015 - Learn about conversation approaches that can help build and sustain solid, lasting support for LGBT nondiscrimination laws, and also factually and effectively address concerns that might be raised when discussing the need for such protections.
June 2014 - New state-focused issue briefs provide overviews of the unfair treatment faced by hardworking LGBT Americans who continue to lack essential protections against discrimination—and as a result, can still be unfairly fired from their jobs simply because of who they are.
May 2014 - LGBT Americans continue to face unfair treatment, harassment and discrimination in the workplace, yet no federal law provides them with explicit legal protections. Learn how businesses and policymakers can help level the playing field and protect LGBT workers from employment discrimination.
November 2013 - Learn how discriminatory laws and unequal access to family and medical leave laws force lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender workers to choose between managing medical or family crises and holding onto their jobs and their livelihoods.
November 2013 - LGBT workers of color face unique challenges, including educational barriers; hiring bias and on-the-job discrimination; unequal pay, benefits, and taxation--and extraordinarily high rates of unemployment and poverty as a result. Learn about actions that can help fix this broken bargain for LGBT workers of color.
September 2013 - The basic American bargain--that those who work hard and meet their responsibilities should be able to get ahead--is broken for transgender workers. Learn about the inequities facing transgender workers, and how policymakers and employers can help reduce and eliminate those inequities.
June 2013 - LGBT workers might have the same job as a coworker, yet be legally fired, denied equal benefits and be required to pay thousands of dollars more in taxes simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Learn more in the 132-page Full Report, the 36-page Condensed Version, and the five-page Executive Summary.
June 2013 - From the pages of A Broken Bargain come a set of infographics, including: 'The Broken Bargain for LGBT Workers,' 'Legal Discrimination Makes It Harder to Find and Keep a Good Job,' 'Transgender Workers Work As Hard, Denied Health Care and Leave,' and more.
April 2013 - U.S. taxpayers send almost $300 billion per year in federal contract dollars to businesses in states that have not yet passed laws to protect LGBT workers from discrimination. An executive order would protect an additional 16 million workers and cover more than 20% of the U.S. workforce.