Scroll To Top

How anti-LGBTQ+ legislation is impacting businesses and individuals

LGBTQ equality worsened past year employee unhappy workplace homophobic transphobic jokes

Amidst an unprecedented surge in anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, a new report reveals the significant toll on individuals and businesses, underscoring the urgent need for companies to bolster inclusive policies and practices.

The United States is in the middle of a culture war. Headlines are full of lawmakers and social commentators vilifying everything from pronouns to healthcare, to the books in grade school libraries, to youth sports, bathrooms, and beyond. It seems danger is lurking everywhere.

These national flare-ups–mostly over gender, sexuality, and gender identity–usually fade with time. Does anyone remember when the Teletubbies seemed to pose an existential threat to children? Or when the fictional Murphy Brown TV character raised the ire of a vice president for–gasp–trying to normalize single motherhood?

Unlike prior culture war moments, this one will not blow over in a few news cycles. LGBTQ+ people are on the receiving end of sustained legislative attacks and dehumanizing language at a scale not seen in nearly a generation.

Since 2015, state lawmakers have flooded legislative sessions with over 2,000 anti-LGBTQ+ bills, and last year earned the dubious distinction of the most anti-LGBTQ+ bills introduced and passed (571 and 77, respectively) in American history. Months into the 2024 legislative session, over 475 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been introduced, with more arriving each day. Far from hollow political performance, these bills undermine everything from healthcare administration to those in need to pre-empt local nondiscrimination ordinances, restrictions on public facilities, and more.

The impact of anti-LGBTQ+ animus is proving devastating to individuals, families, and businesses. The damage expands from schools–a recent study showed a quadrupling of hate crimes among states with anti-LGBTQ+ bills–to workplaces, where parents of LGBTQ+ kids are asking themselves, “Career or safety?” as they consider jobs in safer states.

The latest report released by Out & Equal examines how changing public policy has impacted the career mobility of LGBTQ+ individuals and allies, with actionable steps employers can take to respond effectively. This national study of nearly 600 workers at mid- and large-sized businesses demonstrates that the losses and risks of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation to businesses are material.

The report discovered:

  • 94% of respondents feel LGBTQ+ equality has worsened in the last year.
  • Nearly one in four respondents reported hearing jokes about the LGBTQ+ community at work, with 84% reporting hearing jokes about transgender people specifically.
  • 45% of respondents feel less safe in their states of residence because of changes in LGBTQ+ rights. A third of respondents have considered relocating.

Anti-LGBTQ+ legislation is altering the experience of LGBTQ+ people and allies in the workplace. Businesses are at risk of brain drain and talent loss. In addition, there is a significant economic impact: US businesses lose approximately $1 trillion every year due to voluntary employee turnover. Replacing an individual employee can cost up to two times their annual salary.

While businesses fell short, there are viable, effective paths forward. From offering flexible/remote work options, employee support for out-of-state travel benefits, and programs to help employees struggling with the impact to companies actively engaging in public policy advocacy, businesses can and are strengthening their policies and practices with common-sense nondiscrimination protections.

It’s encouraging to see businesses strengthen their policies and practices with common-sense nondiscrimination protections, equitable benefits, and belonging initiatives for the LGBTQ+ community. Today, 91% of the Fortune 500 have sexual orientation and gender identity protections within their nondiscrimination policies, 73% offer trans-inclusive healthcare benefits, and hundreds have joined business coalitions to affirm their support of LGBTQ+ equality under the law.

This work is not the caricatured “woke” business. These efforts are simply smart business practices.

Still, more needs to be done. This research is a wake-up call to employers to not back down from buffering their workforces and customers against these sustained attacks on the LGBTQ+ community.

As lawmakers cut at the fabric of an inclusive society and economy, the cost of inaction is too great. Inclusion and belonging are essential to social cohesion and business growth. Now is the time to double down on that message inside their four walls and beyond.

Deena Fidasis the Managing Director & Chief Programs Officer at Out & Equal. For over 25 years, Out & Equal has been the premier nonprofit organization working exclusively on LGBTQ+ workplace equity, inclusion, and belonging. Learn more about them by visiting Want to share an opinion on an issue? Have an inspiring personal story to tell? Learn more by visiting

Views expressed in
The Advocate’s opinion articles are those of the writers and do not necessarily represent the views of The Advocate or our parent company, equalpride.

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories

Deena Fidas