Jun 8, 2022 - News

Texas less LGBTQ+ friendly than most states

2022 LGBTQ+ business climate scores, by state
Data: Out Leadership; Chart: Erin Davis/Axios Visuals

Texas trails nearly all states when it comes to offering an inclusive climate for LGBTQ+ workers.

Driving the news: A new report from Out Leadership says we have the No. 42nd business climate for the LGBTQ+ community.

Why it matters: Companies seeking to expand in Central Texas may find it difficult to attract and retain employees if the region is viewed as being hostile to workers' rights. And it could be harder to lure new businesses to the state.

Between the lines: The ranking reflects a continuing tension between business interests and social conservatives.

  • Lately, Gov. Greg Abbott has had it both ways, selling Texas as low-regulation and business-friendly even as he has ordered state agencies to investigate the parents of transgender kids for child abuse for pursuing gender-affirming care.
  • Of note: In the report, Abbott got a 1 out of 5 for his leadership.

What they're saying: Out Leadership's report argues that "states, cities, and municipalities that are more LGBTQ+ friendly reap the benefits of the brightest minds."

  • "This commitment translates to a more competitive talent pool, increased consumer loyalty, and a better bottom line."

Reality check: Lately, business leaders haven't fought anti-LGBTQ+ policies the way they did in 2017, when they killed a bathroom bill by threatening to scuttle major sports events and conventions.

  • That bill would have required transgender people to use bathrooms in public schools, government buildings and public universities based on their "biological sex."

Flash-forward: Last year, Abbott signed into law a measure that forces public school students to play on sports teams based on their assigned sex at birth.

  • In March, Mayor Steve Adler designated Austin a "safe and inclusive city" for families with transgender children in response to state officials' efforts to investigate gender-affirming care for transgender children as child abuse.
  • "What we're seeing at the state level is frightening and horrific," Adler said.

Details: To arrive at their scores for business climate, Out Leadership used data across a few categories, including:

  • State laws that impact LGBTQ+ people, like protections for housing, the workplace and foster care.
  • Religious exemption laws that might allow businesses to discriminate against people.
  • The relative difficulty transgender people face in changing gender markers on official documents.
  • The work environment, including incidences of harassment, assault, mistreatment and the overall employment rates and incomes of LGBTQ+ workers.

State of play: The report finds ever-widening differences between the best and worst states. The good are getting better, while the less friendly are passing more anti-LGBTQ+ laws.

What we're watching: Texas may slide in future rankings if Republican lawmakers succeed in enacting so-called "Don't Say Gay" legislation in the coming session.

avatar

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Austin.

More Austin stories