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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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Mapping LGBT Equality in America

The Bottom Line

Mapping LGBT Equality in America sets out to identify and explain the key gaps in legal equality for LGBT Americans by introducing the major state and local laws and policies that protect or harm LGBT people, providing a breakdown of those laws and policies by state, and showing how protections for LGBT Americans vary based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.

Recommended citation: 
Movement Advancement Project. May 2015. Mapping LGBT Equality in America. http://www.lgbtmap.org/mapping-lgbt-equality (date of access).


In this rapidly changing legal landscape, the Movement Advancement Project maintains LGBT Equality Maps, which track LGBT equality, populations, and other data by state. The maps are updated daily as changes in law, policy, and legislation occur. All Equality Maps, including high-resolution JPEG versions, are available for publication. The LGBT Equality Maps allow websites to embed the maps easily and for free. Visit lgbtmap.org/equality-maps to learn more.

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