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Sexual Orientation Policy Tally

The term “sexual orientation” is loosely defined as a person’s pattern of romantic or sexual attraction to people of the opposite sex or gender, the same sex or gender, or more than one sex or gender. Laws that explicitly mention sexual orientation primarily protect or harm lesbian, gay, and bisexual people. That said, transgender people who are lesbian, gay or bisexual can be affected by laws that explicitly mention sexual orientation.

Gender Identity Policy Tally

“Gender identity” is a person’s deeply-felt inner sense of being male, female, or something else or in-between. “Gender expression” refers to a person’s characteristics and behaviors such as appearance, dress, mannerisms and speech patterns that can be described as masculine, feminine, or something else. Gender identity and expression are independent of sexual orientation, and transgender people may identify as heterosexual, lesbian, gay or bisexual. Laws that explicitly mention “gender identity” or “gender identity and expression” primarily protect or harm transgender people. These laws also can apply to people who are not transgender, but whose sense of gender or manner of dress does not adhere to gender stereotypes.

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Foster and Adoption Laws

Foster care non-discrimination laws protect LGBT foster parents from discrimination by foster care agencies and officials. Some states explicitly restrict foster care by same-sex parents. Other states ban adoption by unmarried couples, effectively resulting in a ban on foster care by same-sex couples if marriage for same-sex couples is not available in that state.

United States Map
Vermont New Hampshire Washington D.C. Maryland Delaware New Jersey Connecticut Rhode Island Massachusetts Alaska Hawaii California Oregon Washington Nevada Utah Arizona Idaho Montana Wyoming Colorado 33 Texas North Dakota South Dakota Nebraska Kansas Oklahoma Minnesota Iowa Louisiana Arkansas Missouri Mississippi Florida Georgia Tennessee South Carolina North Carolina Wisconsin Illinois Michigan Indiana Kentucky Ohio West Virginia Maine New York Pennsylvania Virginia Vermont New Hampshire
  • States support fostering by LGBT parents by restricting discrimination (7 states)
  • States support fostering by LGB parents by restricting discrimination based on sexual orientation only(1 state)
  • States are silent on fostering by LGBT parents (41 states + D.C.)
  • States restrict fostering by LGBT parents (1 state)
  • State permits state-licensed child welfare agencies to refuse to place and provide services to children and families, including LGBT people and same-sex couples, if doing so conflicts with their religious beliefs (3 states)
Utah prohibits unmarried couples from fostering. Michigan, North Dakota, and Virginia permit state-licenses child welfare agencies to deny foster and adoption services to youth and families. Although Obergefell v. Hodges means same-sex couples can legally marry and therefore access joint adoption across the country, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services is currently not permitting same-sex couples to jointly adopt from foster care.

For additional information, contact Family Equality Council, Human Rights Campaign, or American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

Percent of LGBT Population Covered by Laws

30%

30 % of LGBT population lives in states which have laws that support fostering by LGBT parents

2%

2 % of LGBT population lives in states which have laws that support fostering by LGB parents

68%

68 % of LGBT population lives in states which are silent on fostering by LGBT parents

1%

1 % of LGBT population lives in states which restrict fostering by LGBT parents

Joint adoption laws permit same-sex couples to adopt a child together, so both prospective parents become that child’s legal parents. Adoption non-discrimination laws protect LGBT parents from discrimination by adoption agencies and officials. Some states explicitly restrict adoption care by same-sex parents. Other states ban adoption by unmarried couples, effectively resulting in a ban on joint adoption by same-sex couples if marriage for same-sex couples is not available in that state.

United States Map
Vermont New Hampshire Washington D.C. Maryland Delaware New Jersey Connecticut Rhode Island Massachusetts Alaska Hawaii California Oregon Washington Nevada Utah Arizona Idaho Montana Wyoming Colorado 33 Texas North Dakota South Dakota Nebraska Kansas Oklahoma Minnesota Iowa Louisiana Arkansas Missouri Mississippi Florida Georgia Tennessee South Carolina North Carolina Wisconsin Illinois Michigan Indiana Kentucky Ohio West Virginia Maine New York Pennsylvania Virginia Vermont New Hampshire
  • LGBT parents can petition for joint adoption statewide(50 states + D.C.)
  • Availability is uncertain (0 states)
  • Same-sex couples face legal restrictions when petitioning for joint adoption (0 states)
  • Law prohibits discrimination in adoption based on sexual orientation (7 states)
  • Law also prohibits discrimination in adoption based on gender identity (2 states)
  • State permits state-licensed child welfare agencies to refuse to place and provide services to children and families, including LGBT people and same-sex couples, if doing so conflicts with their religious beliefs (3 states)
Based on analysis by MAP and consultation with American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), Lambda Legal, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR). Access to joint adoption may require being in a legally recognized relationship, such as marriage, civil union, or domestic partnership. Michigan, North Dakota, and Virginia permit state-licenses child welfare agencies to deny foster and adoption services to youth and families. Although Obergefell v. Hodges means same-sex couples can legally marry and therefore access joint adoption across the country, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services is currently not permitting same-sex couples to jointly adopt from foster care.

Percent of LGBT Population Covered by Laws

100%

100 % of LGBT population lives in states where LGBT parents can petition for joint adoption statewide

0%

0 % of LGBT population lives in states where the availability of joint adoption is uncertain

0%

0 % of LGBT population lives in states where LGBT parents face legal restrictions when petitioning for joint adoption

Second-parent adoption laws permit a parent in a same-sex relationship to adopt his/her partner’s child and become a legal parent of that child, giving the child two legal parents and giving both parents legal rights. Stepparent adoption laws require the parents be married, while second-parent adoption laws do not.

United States Map
Vermont New Hampshire Washington D.C. Maryland Delaware New Jersey Connecticut Rhode Island Massachusetts Alaska Hawaii California Oregon Washington Nevada Utah Arizona Idaho Montana Wyoming Colorado 33 Texas North Dakota South Dakota Nebraska Kansas Oklahoma Minnesota Iowa Louisiana Arkansas Missouri Mississippi Florida Georgia Tennessee South Carolina North Carolina Wisconsin Illinois Michigan Indiana Kentucky Ohio West Virginia Maine New York Pennsylvania Virginia Vermont New Hampshire
  • Parents in legally recognized same-sex relationships can petition for stepparent adoption statewide; relies on access to marriage or relationship recognition(50 states + D.C.)
  • LGBT parents can petition for second-parent adoption statewide (15 states + D.C.)
  • Availability is uncertain (0 states)
  • LGBT parents face legal restrictions when petitioning for either stepparent or second-parent adoption (0 states)
Based on analysis by MAP and consultation with American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), Lambda Legal, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR). This map indicates availability of second parent adoption for same-sex couples whose relationships are not legally recognized. Availability of stepparent adoption is limited to couples who enter into legally recognized relationships in states that offer such recognition.

Percent of LGBT Population Covered by Laws

100%

100 % of LGBT population live in states where parents in legally recognized same-sex relationships have access to stepparent adoption statewide

45%

45 % of LGBT population lives in states where LGBT parents can petition for second-parent adoption statewide

0%

0 % of LGBT population lives in states where the availability of stepparent and second-parent adoption is uncertain

0%

0 % of LGBT population lives in states where LGBT parents face legal restrictions when petitioning for either stepparent or second-parent adoption

These state laws or state agency regulations require current and prospective foster parents to receive training about LGBT youth in areas like cultural competency and legal requirements. These laws and regulations are designed to improve the safety and outcomes for LGBT youth in the child welfare system.

United States Map
Vermont New Hampshire Washington D.C. Maryland Delaware New Jersey Connecticut Rhode Island Massachusetts Alaska Hawaii California Oregon Washington Nevada Utah Arizona Idaho Montana Wyoming Colorado 33 Texas North Dakota South Dakota Nebraska Kansas Oklahoma Minnesota Iowa Louisiana Arkansas Missouri Mississippi Florida Georgia Tennessee South Carolina North Carolina Wisconsin Illinois Michigan Indiana Kentucky Ohio West Virginia Maine New York Pennsylvania Virginia Vermont New Hampshire
  • State requires LGBT cultural competency training for foster parents (4 states)
  • State does not require LGBT cultural competency training for foster parents (46 states + D.C.)

Percent of LGBT Population Covered by Laws

19%

19 % of LGBT population lives in states that legally require cultural competency training based on sexual orientation and gender identity for foster parents

81%

81 % of LGBT population lives in states that do not legally require cultural competency training based on sexual orientation and gender identity for foster parents

Key
  • State has this law Protections for LGBT parents
  • State does not have this law Restrictions for LGBT parents
State Foster Care Laws & Regulations Joint Adoption Second/Stepparent LGBT Youth in Foster Care
Alabama State has this law
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South Carolina State has this law
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Vermont State has this law State has this law
Virginia State has this law
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West Virginia State has this law
Wisconsin State has this law State has this law
Wyoming State has this law
Data current as of 11/22/2016
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