Envisioning Equality: LGBT Maps

Page updated September 27, 2014.

Rainbow colored south-up world map

A “south-up” map.

Page Guide:

Click a link to jump to the corresponding section below:

LGBT Equality Map of US

Movement Advancement Project maps are embedded near the bottom of this page.

I’ll periodically expand this page to include more topics and links. Feel free to send along questions and suggestions.

Anti-Bullying Laws in the U.S.

"Enumeration" explained on school chalkboard

“Enumeration” in most civil rights laws refers to the listing of traits or classifications−not the listing of groups of people. For more on this, see Note [2].

Anti-bullying laws typically require local school districts to enact detailed policies to address harassment and bullying. Most LGBT-focused anti-bullying maps focus on which states have “fully enumerated” laws. “Fully enumerated” in this context means that the law expressly includes (that is, it “enumerates”) “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” (as well as other traits or classifications, like race and religion) in describing the bias-motivated conduct that school policies must specifically address. Note [1] has an example.

For maps and charts showing state anti-bullying laws, check out these sources:

  • The first section of the State Maps page on the website of the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN), showing which states enumerate “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” in their anti-bullying laws.
  • The map of Statewide School Anti-Bullying Laws & Policies available through the maps page of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). This is similar to the GLSEN anti-bullying map.
  • A December 2013 Youth Allies post, How Do School Policies in Your Area Score in HRC’s MEI?, which includes a chart summarizing local school policies from 170 cities and localities, based on information from HRC’s 2013 Municipal Equality Index.
  • An interactive map of State Anti-Bullying Laws & Policies from stopbullying.gov, a website of the federal government. This map allows you to click on any state for detailed information on its anti-bullying laws.
  • The Anti-Bullying section (the first tab) of the map collection from the Movement Advanced Project (MAP), embedded near the bottom of this page.

For information on state laws that prohibit enumeration, see the section on anti-LGBT education laws below.

School Non-Discrimination Laws in the U.S.

Map of US in Solid BlueFirst: What’s the difference between a non-discrimination law and an anti-bullying law? Non-discrimination laws normally tell public schools that they can’t treat students differently based on certain enumerated classifications (including, in some states, sexual orientation and gender identity), but they don’t necessarily require school districts to enact any policy to deal with bullying among students. Anti-bullying laws, in contrast, normally require local school districts to enact policies to address bullying, including (in some states) bullying based on sexual orientation or gender identity, but they don’t always provide a clear remedy for students who face discrimination directly from school officials. See Note [3] for more.

For maps and charts showing which states enumerate “sexual orientation” and/or “gender identity” in statewide non-discrimination laws covering schools, check out:

And remember: regardless of what state laws say, federal law provides additional protections nationwide. Some state constitutions provide additional protections as well.

Anti-Gay / Anti-LGBT Education Laws in the U.S.

Among the laws that may negatively impact LGBT youth and their allies, the most notorious are “no promo homo” laws, which either prohibit gay-supportive messages or require anti-gay messages in school curricula. Other harmful laws include those that prohibit enumeration of specific classifications in anti-bullying policies. (See the section on anti-bullying laws, above, for more about enumeration.)

For maps/charts and other info on each type of law, see these sources:

  • The last part of the State Maps page on GLSEN’s website, which shows “no promo homo” laws as well as laws prohibiting enumeration.
  • The Anti-LGBT Laws section (third tab) of the Movement Advanced Project’s youth map collection, embedded near the bottom of this page. (Note that this map does not, as of mid September 2014, distinguish between the types of anti-LGBT laws noted above.)
  • A Youth Allies post, Does Your State Have a “No Promo Homo” Law? And What Does That Mean? The post doesn’t have a map, but it explains what exactly a “no promo homo” law is and provides excerpts of the laws from each state that has one.

Laws Restricting “Conversion Therapy” on Minors

Legislators in several states have made efforts to prohibit state-licensed professionals from engaging in the dangerous and discredited practice of “conversion therapy” with minors. (“Conversion therapy is also known as “reparative therapy” or “sexual orientation change efforts.”) Only two states, however, have actually enacted laws of this kind: California and New Jersey.

As there are only two states with these laws, there aren’t many maps on this issue, though the Movement Advancement Project offers one here.

For detailed information about these laws, check out this Youth Allies post: What Do Restrictions on “Conversion Therapy” Actually Say?

MAP Maps on Youth Issues

The Movement Advancement Project (MAP) generously encourages unaffiliated websites to embed MAP’s maps directly onto their websites. I’ve embedded a collection of MAP’s youth maps here, and I’ll embed additional MAP resources in future updates. You can also visit MAP’s website for more information. (“Embedding” is like providing a window directly onto MAP’s site; I don’t control the content of the embedded site. But if you see a problem with it, let me know!)

Comments, Discrepancies & Disagreements

You may notice differences among the maps. Sometimes this just results from a difference in each map’s focus. In other cases, a map may no longer be up-to-date (the law can change fast), or the advocates who created the maps may disagree about how best to interpret the laws that the maps summarize. I’ll occasionally offer comments on these issues and link to those comments here. (My first comment will probably address the discrepancies in how the maps depict New York and Maryland.) Stayed tuned.

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[1] Enumeration example: New York’s anti-bullying law, the Dignity for All Students Act, has a detailed definition of the types of harassment and bullying that local school policies must address. The definition includes the following:

Acts of harassment and bullying shall include, but not be limited to, those acts based on a person’s actual or perceived race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, religious practice, disability, sexual orientation, gender or sex.

The same provision defines “gender” to include “gender identity or expression.” (Jump back to the main text.)

[2] Posts on enumeration include:

(Jump back to the main text.)

[3] More on the difference between anti-bullying laws and non-discrimination laws:

Some examples to illustrate the difference:

  • A public school that denies same-sex couples access to the school prom or that refuses to allow a transgender girl to use the girls’ bathroom could be violating a state non-discrimination law (in addition to violating federal laws), but it wouldn’t necessarily be violating an anti-bullying law, even if the anti-bullying law includes sexual orientation and gender identity, because the discrimination at issue doesn’t fall within the legal definition of bullying.
  • On the other hand, a school district that refuses to enact a detailed, inclusive anti-bullying policy could be violating a state anti-bullying law, but it probably wouldn’t be violating a state non-discrimination law, since state non-discrimination laws don’t normally require that schools enact policies of a particular kind.

There are additional differences as well as some exceptions and overlap, but I’ll save all that for another post. (Jump back to the main text.)

[4] South-up maps:

I included a “south-up” map mostly just for fun, but also because it’s a reminder that our sense of what’s “normal” and “correct” often just reflects habits and conventions, not objective truths. A south-up map might look strange or “upside down” to most of us, but there’s nothing objectively “wrong” with it. In outer space, of course, there is no “up” or “down.” (Jump to the top of the page.)