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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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Where We Call Home: LGBT People of Color in Rural America

Media coverage often portrays rural America as singularly white, conservative and working-class. Yet at least 10 million people of color, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people of color, call rural America home. The Movement Advancement Project (MAP) released a new report, Where We Call Home: LGBT People of Color in Rural America, which examines the unique challenges of LGBT people of color in rural America and highlights distinct experiences across different communities of color. As the second publication in the Where We Call Home series, this report details how the structural challenges of rural life amplify acceptance of or discrimination against LGBT people of color.

This report offers extensive new findings on LGBT people of color in rural communities, where discrimination based on race and immigration status is compounded by discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. Overall, rural states are significantly less likely than majority urban states to have vital nondiscrimination protections, and are also more likely to have harmful, discriminatory laws. Also, among rural states, those with worse LGBT policy climates also have higher populations of people of color, meaning LGBT people of color are especially at risk of discrimination and especially likely to lack protection against it.  

Because LGBT people of color may experience discrimination based on their sexual orientation and/or gender identity and their race or ethnicity, passing nondiscrimination protections at the federal, state, and local level is vital to ensure full participation in all aspects of life. The report concludes with recommendations for community organizations, educators, healthcare providers and policymakers to address the specific needs of LGBT people of color in rural communities.

To access all our resources and research on LGBT people in rural communities, visit our rural topic page.

Recommended citation: 
Movement Advancement Project. September 2019. Where We Call Home: LGBT People of Color in Rural America. www.lgbtmap.org/rural-lgbt-poc. [Date of access].

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