2022 State Equality Index

A Review of State Legislation Affecting the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Community and a Look Ahead in 2023.

Published by the HRC Foundation in 2023

Dear Friends,

There can be no denying it: we’ve had a challenging year.

Marked by another unprecedented wave of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, 2022 tested the very limits of our community’s fortitude and strength.

The youngest members of our community faced a barrage of educational discrimination and harassment as anti-equality forces targeted LGBTQ+ youth and focused their sights on transgender and non-binary children. The assault was relentless. A surge in anti-transgender sports bans isolated transgender and non-binary athletes from their peers just as they’d returned to the classroom.

The intentional whittling down of school support systems by unfriendly state legislatures left many LGBTQ+ students unable to safely confide in trusted school staff or to see themselves accurately reflected in their classroom curriculum.

To round it out, lawmakers across the country embarked on a reckless misinformation campaign to justify blocking transgender and non-binary youth from accessing age-appropriate, medically-necessary, gender affirming care. The consequences have been devastating for families. In defiance of best practices supported by every major medical organization, Alabama and Texas criminalized parents who sought the best possible medical care for their transgender and non-binary children.

These discriminatory attacks make the world less safe for all LGBTQ+ people. As our community faces a rising tide of anti-LGBTQ+ hate, fueled by the efforts of anti-equality lawmakers, we must remember that violence does not happen in a vacuum. The deadly shooting at Club Q, an LGBTQ+ club in Colorado Springs, that took the lives of five people and injured many others, is painful evidence of that.

Still, in all that has transpired, our resolve to live authentically and without fear has never wavered.

When Governor Youngkin instructed Virginia schools to openly discriminate against transgender students, our community drew strength from the images of thousands of students marching out of their classrooms in protest. We continued to gather during Pride month to honor those who came before us and to share our stories, despite hate-fueled efforts to silence our joyous celebrations.

We continue to envision a world where each and every single member of the LGBTQ+ family has the freedom to live in their truth and with full equality under the law. As this last year has shown us, we are more powerful together than apart.

As always, the important and difficult work we do would not be possible without our partners at the Equality Federation Institute and all of the statewide LGBTQ+ organizations and leaders who work tirelessly for equality.

Kelley Robinson , President , Human Rights Campaign

Dear Readers,

At Equality Federation, we know the importance of statewide protections for the LGBTQ+ community. As an advocacy accelerator dedicated to building power in our network of state-based LGBTQ+ advocacy organizations, we are proud to partner with HRC on the State Equality Index. The State Equality Index tells the story of how advocates in states across the country achieve wins and battle tough opposition to fight for the rights of the LGBTQ+ community year after year.

It is not an easy time to be an LGBTQ+ person in this country. And it’s especially difficult for people on the ground who are working to protect their local communities from physical attacks as well as attacks on our basic liberties via discriminatory, harmful legislation. Unfortunately, 2022 saw a continuation of the recent dramatic explosion of legislation targeting transgender people, especially transgender youth, exploiting myths and misunderstandings about what it means to be transgender.

From banning transgender young people from accessing gender affirming care or participating in sports to banning the discussion of LGBTQ+ people in schools, anti-equality opponents spread deeply harmful narratives about our community. Across the country, we saw devastating numbers of anti-LGBTQ+ bills filed and some even passed, despite the incredible work of advocates organizing their communities and telling our stories.

We know that the mere introduction and discussion of these bills further fuels anti-LGBTQ+ stigma nationwide, resulting in violence against our community. Our community in Colorado Springs was attacked at Club Q in a targeted, deadly shooting. It is no coincidence that in a year when we saw the most anti-LGBTQ+ legislation introduced in recent memory, we also saw mass gun violence and extremist groups showing up to threaten Pride and Drag Queen Story Hour events. As long as LGBTQ+ people and our families are seen as a threat and used as political pawns, violence against our people will continue to happen. We must do everything we can to protect one another during this time.

We know that the lives and identities of LGBTQ+ people are intersecting and complex. No one law will change every aspect of our lives, but some can contribute to the larger work being done to achieve full lived equality. We are grateful for the work of advocates who continue to press lawmakers to protect our entire community through HIV modernization laws, relationship recognition bills, and nondiscrimination protections. These proactive efforts offer hope during challenging times.

As we enter 2023, we already see state partners facing more attacks against transgender youth, in athletics, medical care, and schools. We are prepared to support them in the fights ahead. The State Equality Index is important because it provides an opportunity to recognize states for the progress they have made and to hold lawmakers accountable for the progress needed to protect all LGBTQ+ people.


Fran Hutchins , Executive Director , Equality Federation Institute

In 2022, the LGBTQ+ movement saw continued momentum on good bills. This map shows the states that passed laws pertaining to LGBTQ+ equality in their respective SEI categories this year.

Good vs Bad Legislation in 2022

Good Bills

In 2022, 156 pro-equality bills were introduced in state legislatures around the country. 23 were signed into law.

Bad Bills

In 2022, 315 anti-equality bills were introduced in state legislatures around the country. 29 were signed into law.

Key state law and policy developments in 2022

State legislatures across the country considered a record number of anti-LGBTQ+ bills in 2022. By the end of February, 2022 saw historical levels of legislation filed that targeted our community across key areas of life, including access to healthcare and education. Anti-equality legislators focused much of their discriminatory efforts on LGBTQ+ youth, with a laser focus on transgender and non-binary youth. With [193] bills introduced, anti-LGBTQ+ youth-related bills made up more than half of all anti-equality bills filed in state legislatures this year alone.

In lieu of addressing the tumultuous economy, ongoing pandemic, or other pressing issues, state legislators instead targeted support systems for transgender and non-binary youth. [42] gender-affirming care ban bills were introduced nationwide, [3] were enacted, and two states took similar administrative action, effectively eliminating access to age-appropriate, medically-necessary health care backed by decades of research and supported by every major medical association. Around [80] bills were filed to stop transgender kids from participating in sports and [19] banned them from using bathrooms and locker rooms that aligned with their gender identity. Notably, the number of states excluding transgender athletes from school sports doubled over the last year from [10] states in 2021, to [19] in 2022.

Anti-LGBTQ+ legislation also included the introduction of bills undermining state non-discrimination protections. [37] religious refusal bills were filed, including [16] so-called ‘RFRA’s, and [12] religious refusal bills in medical care, allowing doctors to discriminate against LGBTQ+ patients.

There were bright spots too.

New Jersey started off the new year by decriminalizing HIV-specific transmission. In Illinois, lawmakers made it easier for residents to access preventative care for HIV and AIDS and also established a Commission on LGBTQ+ aging to study the long-term care needs of LGBTQ+ adults and their caregivers. In a huge step toward equality, Colorado enacted a law streamlining the process for parents using assisted reproduction to establish a legal relationship with their non-biological child.

In addition to these new laws, protests, walk-outs and ally coordination efforts — many led by students — helped shine a light on efforts to pass discriminatory legislation across the country, most prominently across Florida in response to the recent passage of the so-called “Stop WOKE Act” and the “Don’t Say LGBTQ+” bill. In a critical show of support for the LGBTQ+ community and transgender youth, nearly 300 major companies joined together to sign onto the Human Rights Campaign and Freedom for All Americans Business Statement on Anti-LGBTQ+ legislation.

All in all, [315] anti-LGBTQ+ bills were filed in the 2022 state legislative session. Only [29] became law. Despite the record-breaking year, pro-equality forces were able to defeat 91% of the anti-equality legislation introduced in state legislatures across the country.

Comparative Legislation at a Glance


Parenting Laws

Religious Refusal & Relationship Recognition

Non-Discrimination Laws

Youth Laws

Health & Safety

Hate Crimes & Criminal Justice

Outlook for 2023

2022 was another record-breaking year, with unprecedented levels of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation filed in state legislatures. Unfortunately, there is every reason to believe that 2023 will also be historic - in only the first few weeks of 2023 the levels of pre-filed legislation are already astounding. The persistence of opponents of equality cannot be overstated - the same cast of characters have been making the same arguments for decades - but despite this, social acceptance and legal equality have continued to grow.

Vintage homophobia certainly grabbed the limelight in 2022, thanks to a modernized Anita Bryant-style “Save Our Children'' effort that again tried to paint the very acknowledgement of the existence of LGBTQ+ people as a threat to Florida’s young people. The “Don’t Say LGBTQ+” bill gained national notoriety, as did Governor DeSantis’ spokesperson’s effort to label any opponents of the measure as “groomers”. The effort to characterize the existence of LGBTQ+ people as inherently harmful and dangerous to children also fed arguments about other kinds of curriculum censorship, including book banning. These trends are likely to continue into 2023.

Bans on drag performances will be extremely popular in 2023, based on the same fundamental premise: LGBTQ+ identity is inherently sexual, inherently inappropriate, and inherently dangerous to children. Never mind that the performance of drag can, with a change of script, costume and theme, adapt to a new audience and new venue quite nimbly. Never mind that children may enjoy being read to in a dramatic fashion by a storyteller in a costume. Never mind that theater has a long-standing tradition of male actors playing female roles, including in Shakespeare’s plays. If LGBTQ+ identity is inherently suspect, and children are inherently endangered by the acknowledgement of gender nonconformity, then prohibiting the performance of drag is perhaps a logical next step - despite the illogic of their premise.

Unfortunately 2023 will also continue to see bills that target, with the intent to eliminate, the various social and legal supports that transgender youth have sometimes found. This includes a slew of bills hoping to prevent transgender youth from being able to access age-appropriate, medically-necessary, gender affirming care.

The bills do this by denying funding, revoking professional licenses of health care providers, by creating causes of action for personal injury and deeming the provision of this best-practice care to be reckless, and by imposing criminal penalties on parents and healthcare professionals who provide or sanction this care. More bills also attempt to turn teachers, school counselors, school administrators and school coaches against transgender students, by forcing the teachers to out students to their parents even if that would put the student in danger; forbidding school personnel from using the student’s chosen name and pronouns; preventing the students from using the restroom or playing on a sports team consistent with their gender identity; and of course forbidding discussion of LGBTQ+ people or issues in schools.

Finally, opponents of equality will continue to push for carve-outs to generally applicable non-discrimination laws if religious belief is used to justify the discrimination. Whether the harm of the refusal is by a florist and the hurt is to a patron’s dignity, or if the harm is by a paramedic and the hurt is to the injured’s ability to survive, discrimination cannot be allowed to root itself in the public square. The First Amendment is a shield for religious liberty, not a sword - and faith leaders of many denominations continue to decry efforts to invoke religious freedom when the effect of these laws is actually to allow discrimination.

Labeling the mere existence of LGBTQ+ people as sexual, inappropriate, or dangerous is - no doubt - discrimination. Protecting children will be the work of state legislatures this year, but not because LGBTQ+ people are the danger. Discrimination itself is the danger.

Scorecard Criteria


Florida has become the right-wing test market for extremist policies and anti-LGBTQ attacks—and we are the resistance.

Learn More


In 2022, the Alabama Legislature passed and Governor Kay Ivey signed the most anti-transgender legislative package in history into law. This has created an untenable environment for our community in Alabama.

Learn More


The collaborative efforts of state and local advocates accelerated LGBTQ+ inclusive state laws and policies this year. At the same time, our partners simultaneously defended against the harms of anti-equality forces. Take a closer look at what happened during this legislative session in these State Spotlights.

Acknowledging Context

National Stats


*Does not include the District of Columbia


State Advocacy Categories for SEI Scorecards

In the SEI scorecards, we have grouped states into several broad categories to provide a general idea about the type of advocacy that occurs in each state in addition to identifying statewide laws and policies affecting LGBTQ+ people in such states. The categories are:

These states have a broad range of protections to ensure equality for LGBTQ+ people, including comprehensive non-discrimination laws, safer school policies, and healthcare access for transgender people. Advocates focus on the implementation of laws and advance innovative legislation that addresses the needs of vulnerable populations.

21 states are in the highest-rated category, “Working Toward Innovative Equality”: California, Maine, District of Columbia, Colorado, New York, Massachusetts, Illinois, New Jersey, Vermont, Connecticut, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Minnesota, Delaware, Rhode Island, Maryland, Hawaii, New Mexico, New Hampshire, and Virginia

These states have several basic measures of equality, including non-discrimination protections or anti-bullying laws. Advocates work to ensure the broad implementation of these laws while advancing laws concerning parenting, youth, health and criminal justice to achieve full equality for the LGBTQ+ community.

5 states are in the category “Solidifying Equality”: Iowa, Alaska, Utah, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania.

In these states, advocates work to build upon initial advances toward LGBTQ+ equality, such as the implementation of safer school policies, expanding non-discrimination protections, or protections in healthcare for transgender people. Work in these states varies widely but may focus on opposing negative legislation, passing comprehensive non-discrimination laws, or making it easier for LGBTQ+ people to create families.

2 states are in the category “Building Equality": North Dakota and Kentucky.

In these states, advocates focus on raising support for basic LGBTQ+ equality, such as non-discrimination protections in employment, housing and public accommodations. These states are most likely to have religious refusal or other anti-LGBTQ+ laws. Advocates often further LGBTQ+ equality by focusing on municipal protections for LGBTQ+ people or opposing negative legislation that targets the LGBTQ+ community.

23 states are in the lowest-rated category “High Priority to Achieve Basic Equality”: Kansas, Indiana, Michigan, Florida, Arizona, Nebraska, Ohio, North Carolina, Montana, West Virginia, Georgia, Texas, Wyoming, Missouri, Louisiana, Idaho, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, South Dakota, Mississippi, and Alabama

State Advocacy Categories Map

State Scorecards

Scorecard Changes For the 2023 State Equality Index

The legal landscape for LGBTQ+ equality has shifted rapidly in the past several years

States have continued to push for LGBTQ+ equality beyond relationship recognition after the ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges made marriage equality the law of the land. Many are increasingly focused on passing non-discrimination laws, protecting LGBTQ+ youth, and expanding healthcare access for transgender people. This publication will continue to evaluate the changing landscape of law and provide the fullest picture of LGBTQ+ equality in the states.

In 2023, the SEI will also continue to rate states that prevent transgender youth from accessing age-appropriate, medically-necessary, gender affirming care.

The rise in religious refusal bills and bills that target transgender student athletes call for greater attention from LGBTQ+ advocates. The SEI will continue to recognize various laws that fall in this category. Future editions may include more nuance if particular types of laws gain traction.

We will consider other changes to the SEI scorecard based on developments in state law over the next few years. As a general matter, we will not include an item in the SEI scorecard unless at least one state has passed a law or policy that qualifies under the criteria for an item. Potential new criteria for future editions may include:


  • LGBTQ+ cultural competency training requirements for various types of professionals (doctors, mental health professionals, educators, etc.)
  • Proper gender and name requirements on death certificates for transgender people

  • Mandatory LGBTQ+ inclusive training for law enforcement

  • LGBTQ+ inclusive paid leave laws


  • Laws that restrict access to supportive student groups in public schools

  • Laws that allow government officials or businesses to refuse to recognize legal marriages

  • Laws aiming to restrict or prohibit drag shows, story hours, or performances

  • Laws that allow or require teachers and school administrators to use names or pronouns inconsistent with a student’s gender identity

  • Laws that require educators, mental health professionals, other adults to out LGBTQ+ youth to their parents even if doing so would put the young person at risk of harm.


The SEI Team

SARAH WARBELOW is the Legal Director for the Human Rights Campaign, where she leads HRC’s team of litigators, policy attorneys and law fellows, and oversees the Municipal Equality and State Equality Indices.

CATHRYN OAKLEY is HRC’s State Legislative Director and Senior Counsel and the founding author of the Municipal Equality Index. She supervises the Municipal Equality Index and State Equality Index and state and local policy work.

COURTNAY AVANT serves as legislative counsel at the Human Rights Campaign, focusing on federal and state advocacy. She handles a range of issues, including those related to criminal justice, voting rights, and LGBTQ+ youth.

BRITTNY PHAM is the Program Manager for State and Municipal Programs, where she manages both the Municipal Equality Index and the State Equality Index each year. Brittny works with the attorneys and law fellows to create the content for this report, and ensures the digital and communications teams can promote the State Equality Index to the masses.

Contributing Partners

The SEI would not be complete without the time, talent, and commitment of many folks. We appreciate all those that contributed to this year’s report.

This year we extend a special thanks to Colin Kutney, former Associate Director of State and Municipal Programs at HRC, who assisted with the initial phases of the 2022 SEI. We also thank our SEI consultant, Kirsten Quinn and HRC colleagues Aryn Fields, Jared Todd, Kathryn Smith, Robert Villaflor, Tarine Wright, Kiah Albritton, Brandon Hooks, Carolyn Simon, Summer Putnam, Alec Carrasco, Susan Paine and HRC’s 2022 McCleary Law Fellows and Legal Interns.

Finally, thanks to Noted Branding, Viget, and Heller Consulting for making the magic of the SEI come to life.

The Equality Federation Institute

As always, this work happens because of our dedicated partners at the Equality Federation Institute. The achievements we celebrate in this publication are often theirs. The state groups on the following page deserve a special mention for their engagement and support this year.

It’s been our great pleasure to work in partnership with the Equality Federation Institute on this report. Members of the Equality Federation strive each day to achieve the equality measures that this report indexes, bringing state policy and advocacy expertise, grassroots organizing, and local experience to the fight for LGBTQ+ equality. The State Index Equality, and indeed, the tremendous gains in LGBTQ+ equality at the state level, would not be possible without their effort and relentless commitment.

We look forward to working with you again for the 2023 SEI!

For questions or additional information, please contact or visit

The State Equality Index would not have been possible without the valuable contributions made by the Equality Federation Institute and their state group members.

The strength of the state-based LGBTQ+ movement is critical to elevate our representation, visibility and equality across the country. As we look to the next legislative session, the State Equality Index should serve as a recognition of how far we have come and how much we have yet to achieve.