While Supreme Court Weighs LGBTQ Equality, Some States Are Ahead on Inclusion

The United States Supreme Court is currently in the process of deciding whether Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 — which prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin — also applies to sexual orientation and gender identity.

The court’s ruling will be life-changing for LGBTQ Americans, as it has the potential to either expand or reduce their protections under federal law. The decision will likely emerge during the lead-up to the 2020 presidential election, according to NPR.

In an attempt to safeguard certain protections for LGBTQ individuals should the conservative-leaning Supreme Court rule against expanding Title VII, the Democrat-led House of Representatives in May 2019 passed a bill called the Equality Act. The bill would provide comprehensive protections for LGBTQ individuals in a variety of areas, including employment, education, federal funding, housing, and public accommodations, according to The Hill. Since then, however, the Equality Act has languished in the GOP-dominated Senate.

Despite the uncertainty regarding LGBTQ rights at the federal level, some states have already implemented their own laws against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. These laws include the following:

Housing & Employment Discrimination
Prohibited in 21 states and the District of Columbia

Public Accommodations* Discrimination
Prohibited in 20 states and the District of Columbia

Discrimination in K-12 Public Schools
Prohibited in 15 states and the District of Columbia

Discrimination in Healthcare**
Prohibited in 13 states and the District of Columbia

Discrimination via Conversion Therapy
Prohibited by 18 states and the District of Columbia for youth under the age of 18

States That Have Anti-Discrimination Laws for All of the Above
California, Connecticut, The District of Columbia, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Vermont, Washington

*The provision of equal services by local businesses, as defined by the Human Rights Campaign.
**Defined as transgender-inclusive health insurance coverage and transgender-inclusive benefits for state employees.

Ginger O’Donnell is a senior staff writer for INSIGHT Into Diversity. This article ran in the December 2019 issue.