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79% of American workers say anti-LGBTQ+ laws impact where they move: report

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As 4 out of 5 U.S. workers say anti-LGBTQ+ laws affects where they relocate, inclusion is just "smart business practice," according to a new study by nonprofit Out & Equal.

Anti-LGBTQ+ legislation isn't just a scourge on human rights – it also stands to impact the American economy as it drives prospective workers away.

Out of 563 U.S. employees – both LGBTQ+ and non-LGBTQ+ – 94 percent said they believe that LGBTQ+ equality has worsened in the last year, according to a new report from Out & Equal, a nonprofit dedicated to queer workplace equality. Additionally, 45 percent of respondents said they feel less safe in their state of residence because of legislation targeting the queer community.

“For the past two decades, the LGBTQ+ movement has made significant advancements in equality, inclusion, and belonging in nearly all aspects of society and culture,” said the grou's CEO Erin Uritus in a statement. “Today, that progress is being challenged with pervasive intensity."

More than 550 anti-LGBTQ+ bills were introduced across the U.S. in 2023, and 80 were passed into law. Less than three months into 2024, 479 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been introduced, many of which outright prohibit LGBTQ+ curriculum in public schools or life-saving gender-affirming care for young people, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

Because of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation in state legislatures, 31 percent of respondents said they have considered relocating as a result of feeling less safe. An overwhelming 4 out of 5 (79 percent) said that anti-LGBTQ+ laws would affect whether they would choose to relocate for a new job or position in a new state.

"These bills have devastating impacts on LGBTQ+ people, their families, their workplaces, and their communities. We are at a tipping point," Uritus said. "It’s why now, more than ever before, the LGBTQ+ community needs action paired with authentic allyship. When and where public policy falls short, businesses and their leaders have, can, and must become changemakers.”

While 40 percent said they do not feel fully comfortable discussing the impact of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation with their supervisors, there are several steps the majority of respondents said their supervisors could take to make them feel supported in the workplace.

These steps included offering flexible/remote work options (56 percent), engaging in public policy advocacy (55 percent), providing employer-funded relocation resources (52 percent), providing support for out-of-state travel and benefits (50 percent), and hosting dedicated assistance programs for employees struggling with the impact, anticipated and felt, of changing legislation (42 percent).

“When lawmakers flood state houses with anti-LGBTQ+ bills, they are not just hurting LGBTQ+ people and their families, they are throwing up roadblocks to business growth,” said Out & Equal's chief program and partnerships officer Deena Fidas. “This research demonstrates that public policy aimed at curbing the fundamental rights of the LGBTQ+ community also curbs businesses’ ability to attract and retain talent, relocate employees with ease, and generally be nimble in the market."

"Inclusion and belonging are pillars that are both moral imperatives and smart business practice," she said.

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Ryan Adamczeski

Ryan is a staff writer at the Advocate, and a graduate of New York University Tisch's Department of Dramatic Writing, with a focus in television writing and comedy. She first became a published author at the age of 15 with her YA novel 'Someone Else's Stars', and is now a member of GALECA, the LGBTQ+ society of entertainment critics. In her free time, Ryan likes watching New York Rangers hockey, listening to the Beach Boys, and practicing witchcraft.
Ryan is a staff writer at the Advocate, and a graduate of New York University Tisch's Department of Dramatic Writing, with a focus in television writing and comedy. She first became a published author at the age of 15 with her YA novel 'Someone Else's Stars', and is now a member of GALECA, the LGBTQ+ society of entertainment critics. In her free time, Ryan likes watching New York Rangers hockey, listening to the Beach Boys, and practicing witchcraft.