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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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Policy & Issue Analysis


There are almost 10 million LGBT adults in the United States. LGBT Americans live in 99% of U.S. counties and are racially and ethnically diverse. Like other Americans, LGBT Americans mow the lawn, volunteer in their communities, work, fall in love, have children, and often struggle to make ends meet.

MAP works to uncover how inequitable and prejudicial laws have a negative effect on LGBT people’s lives—and what needs to happen to make things better. So what is it that LGBT Americans want? It’s simple:

Incomes and Jobs. LGBT Americans want the same opportunities as other Americans to earn a living. This won’t happen until employers can no longer legally fire LGBT Americans just because of who they are.

Families and Community. LGBT Americans want to be able to take care of those they love. However, inequitable laws often prevent LGBT people from being able to take time off work to be with a sick partner. LGBT Americans in life-long relationships often are denied a pension after the death of a loved one. And LGBT families with foster children often are unable to adopt and provide a forever home to the children they are raising.

Safety. LGBT Americans want to be safe in their communities. This means walking down the street without fear of harassment or assault. It means feeling safe in public schools, and not being subject to bullying and violence. It also means finding a safe place to worship.

Public and Military Service. LGBT Americans want the same opportunities as others to serve their country and their communities. Social stigma makes it harder to participate in civic groups and run for office. It can make it harder to volunteer. It can make it difficult to serve openly in the armed forces.


MAP Resources

Introductory Series

MAP''s Introductory Series provides broad overviews into the lives, experiences, disparities, and strengths of LGBT Americans, transgender Americans, and bisexual Americans.

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Criminal Justice

LGBT people, particularly LGBT people of color, face higher rates of incarceration and unfair treatment and abuse in the criminal justice system.


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LGBT Policy Spotlight Reports

LGBT Policy Spotlight Reports are an ongoing series that will provide in-depth analyses of laws and policies tracked at the Movement Advancement Project’s.

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For More

To find all of our policy resources, please use the drop-down menus under the Policy tab in the ribbon at the top of the site. Our resources are sorted by population and by issue. To see a list of our policy resources in chronological order, click below.

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