Texas ranks as one of the worst states in the country for LGBTQ+ people, according to the Equality Federation Institute and the Human Rights Campaign’s State Equality Index for 2020.
The recently-released annual index measures the rights and protections each state has in place for LGBTQ+ individuals. Texas is ranked in the bottom category, and referred to as a “high priority to achieve basic equality.”
Ricardo Martinez, the CEO of Equality Texas told the Houston Chronicle that “Texas has a way to go to secure basic equality for LGBTQ+ people.” He added that “although 70 percent of Texans believe that discrimination against LGBTQ+ people is wrong, many are not aware that their LGBTQ+ neighbors can be refused housing or denied public accommodation simply because of who we are.”
According to the report, Texas is lacking statewide protections in housing, unemployment, public accommodations, school anti-bullying policies, education, and access to trans health care. There’s also no laws that “facilitate a gender marker update on driver’s licenses or birth certificates” or ban conversion therapy or hate crimes targeting sexual orientation or gender identity.
Texas currently has laws that permit discrimination in adoption and foster placement, restrict inclusion of LGBTQ+ topics in schools, and exclude trans health care from being covered by the state Medicaid program. The state still has an anti-sodomy law on its books, even though enforcing such laws have been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.
Just last year, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law SB 1978, which prohibits the state, as well as cities and counties, from punishing businesses or individuals because of membership in or donations to religious organizations, including anti-LGBTQ+ ones. This was dubbed the “Save Chick-fil-A Bill.”
Texas isn’t alone in the bottom category, though. Twenty-four other states are also “high priority to achieve basic equality” according to the report. The top category, “Working toward innovative equality,” has 20 states in it, so when it comes to LGBTQ+ rights and protections, it’s mostly feast or famine in the United States.