Out Leadership, a global network of LGBTQ business leaders and companies is out with its 2022 LGBTQ+ Business Climate Index, and New Jersey is one of the highest-ranked states in the nation.

According to Out Leadership founder and CEO Todd Sears, the Index ranks all 50 states on a wide range of parameters for LGBTQ Americans, including “legal and non-discrimination protections, youth and family support, political and religious attitudes in the states, health access and safety and work environment and employment.”

He said each state gets a score between 0 and 100 and this year's score improved from 87.33 to 90.33, makeing the state number 4 in the nation for LGBT friendless for business and the community.

In the legal and non-discrimination protections category, Sears said Jersey got a perfect 20 out of 20 rating for “changing birth certificate and driver’s license, public information as well as employment non-discrimination and broad non-discrimination across the state.”

He said in the youth and family support category, the Garden State gets 18.33 out of 20 points.

Conversion therapy is banned in NJ

“A conversion therapy ban is in place in the state, which is really important because so many states, 31 states, still allow conversion therapy," he said.

The index gives Jersey 20 out of 20 points in the political and religious attitudes category, 17 out of 20 for health access and safety, and in the work environment and employment category Jersey gets 15 out of 20 points.

Sears said 9% of transgender employees in Jersey reported being harassed about their gender identity over the past year, and 22% of the LGBTQ+ community in the state report food insecurity, compared to 13% of non-LGBTQ+ New Jerseyans, so work remains to be done.

Why the rankings matter

He said all of these categories matter to LGBTQ+ residents and their families “because obviously straight people have gay family members, gay children, LGBTQ children, and pay attention very much to how the state treats the LGBTQ community.”

He pointed out every state in America is reviewed and ranked “because we want the states to understand how being friendly for the LGBTQ community can drive business and talent in the state.”

Gay Rights Supporters March On Washington For Equality And Marriage Rights
Brendan Smialowski, Getty Images

Sears said the Index provides business leaders with actionable information about the climate in which they conduct business and quantify the economic imperative for inclusion, as well as the cost of discrimination through this transparent assessment of the landscape of LGBTQ+ inclusion in America.

The best and worst

The highest-ranked state in the LGBTQ+ Business Climate Index is New York, followed by Connecticut, Massachusetts and then New Jersey.

The lowest-ranked state in America is South Carolina, while Oklahoma came in 49th.

The average score across all 50 states was 64.61 out of 100, a slight increase on last year’s average 64.03.

The full Index is available here.

David Matthau is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at david.matthau@townsquaremedia.com

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