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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 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.
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 American Samoa Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Guam Puerto Rico U.S. Virgin Islands
  • Law or policy prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity (5 states, 0 territories + D.C.)
  • Law or policy prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation only (4 states, 1 territory)
  • States are silent on fostering by LGBT parents (41 states, 4 territories)
  • 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 (10 states, 0 territories)
Utah prohibits unmarried couples from fostering. Alabama, Kansas, Michigan, Mississippi, Oklahoma, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, and Virginia permit state-licensed child welfare agencies to deny foster and adoption services to youth and families.

* Alabama and Michigan permit discrimination only by child service agencies that do not receive government funding.

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

Recommended citation:
Movement Advancement Project. "Equality Maps: Foster and Adoption Laws." http://www.lgbtmap.org/equality-maps/foster_and_adoption_laws (date of access).

Percent of Adult LGBT Population Covered by Laws

*Note: These percentages reflect estimates of the LGBT adult population living in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Estimates of the LGBT adult population in the five inhabited U.S. territories are not available, and so cannot be reflected here.

28%

28 % of LGBT population lives in states which have laws that support fostering by LGBT parents

8%

8 % of LGBT population lives in states which have laws that support fostering by LGB parents

64%

64 % of LGBT population lives in states which are silent on fostering by LGBT parents

18%

18 % of LGBT population lives in states permitting 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

Adoption non-discrimination laws protect LGBT parents from discrimination by adoption agencies and officials. Some states permit 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.
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 American Samoa Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Guam Puerto Rico U.S. Virgin Islands
  • State law explicitly prohibits discrimination in adoption based on both sexual orientation and gender identity (5 states, 1 territory + D.C.)
  • State law explicitly prohibits discrimination in adoption based on sexual orientation only (3 states, 1 territory)
  • No explicitly prohibitions of discrimination in adoption based on sexual orientation or gender identity in state law (42 states, 3 territories)
  • 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 (10 states, 0 territories)
* Note: Alabama and Michigan permit discrimination only by child service agencies that do not receive government funding.

This map is based on analysis by MAP in consultation with American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), Lambda Legal, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR). Joint adoption laws permit same-sex couples to adopt a child together, so both prospective parents become that child’s legal parents. Access to joint adoption may require being in a legally recognized relationship, such as marriage, civil union, or domestic partnership.Utah prohibits unmarried couples from fostering.

Alabama, Kansas, Michigan, Mississippi, Oklahoma, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, and Virginia permit state-licensed child welfare agencies to deny foster and adoption services to youth and families.

Recommended citation:
Movement Advancement Project. "Equality Maps: Foster and Adoption Laws." http://www.lgbtmap.org/equality-maps/foster_and_adoption_laws (date of access).

Percent of Adult LGBT Population Covered by Laws

*Note: These percentages reflect estimates of the LGBT adult population living in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Estimates of the LGBT adult population in the five inhabited U.S. territories are not available, and so cannot be reflected here.

28%

28 % of LGBT population lives in states where state law explicitly prohibits discrimination in adoption based on both sexual orientation and gender identity

6%

6 % of LGBT population lives in states where state law explicitly prohibits discrimination in adoption based on sexual orientation only

66%

66 % of LGBT population lives in states where state law does not explicitly prohibit discrimination in adoption based on sexual orientation or gender identity

18%

18 % of LGBT population lives in states permitting 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

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 American Samoa Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Guam Puerto Rico U.S. Virgin Islands
  • Parents in legally recognized same-sex relationships can petition for stepparent adoption statewide; relies on access to marriage or relationship recognition(50 states, 1 territory + D.C.)
  • LGBT parents can petition for second-parent adoption statewide (15 states, 1 territory + D.C.)
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.

Recommended citation:
Movement Advancement Project. "Equality Maps: Foster and Adoption Laws." http://www.lgbtmap.org/equality-maps/foster_and_adoption_laws (date of access).

Percent of Adult LGBT Population Covered by Laws

*Note: These percentages reflect estimates of the LGBT adult population living in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Estimates of the LGBT adult population in the five inhabited U.S. territories are not available, and so cannot be reflected here.

100%

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

44%

44 % of LGBT population lives in states where LGBT parents can petition for second-parent adoption statewide

Child-welfare non-discrimination laws protect youth in the child welfare system from discrimination based on the youth's sexual orientation and gender identity.
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 American Samoa Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Guam Puerto Rico U.S. Virgin Islands
  • Statute, regulation, and/or agency policy that prohibits discrimination against youth in the child welfare system based on sexual orientation and gender identity (24 states, 0 territories + D.C.)
  • Statute, regulation, and/or agency policy that prohibits discrimination against youth in the child welfare system based only on sexual orientation (13 states, 0 territories)
  • No statute, regulation, and/or agency policy on discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in child welfare (13 states, 0 territories)
  • Explicit guidance requiring that transgender youth in the child welfare system be assigned to housing in accordance with their gender identity (3 states, 0 territories)
  • Requires LGBT-inclusive cultural competency training for child welfare staff and/or foster parents (9 states, 0 territories)

This map shows where explicit state-based statutory, regulatory, and policy-based non-discrimination protections in the nation’s child welfare system. These protections prohibit discrimination against youth in the child welfare system based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

In addition to these explicit policies, several states have policies that prohibit discrimination based on “sex.” Although such policies do not explicitly prohibit discrimination based on gender identity and are therefore not included on this map, advocates may be able to utilize these protections to protect transgender youth as case law evolves.

This map also includes the states in which there are laws or regulations that require current and prospective foster parents and child welfare staff to receive training about LGBT youth in areas like cultural competency and legal requirements, as well as the states with laws requiring that transgender youth be placed in accordance with their gender identity. Only states with explicit legal requirements for transgender youth placement are included to the exclusion of those with recommendations and those that consider housing placements on a case-by-case basis. These laws and regulations are designed to improve the safety and outcomes for LGBT youth in the child welfare system.

For more information, please contact Lambda Legal.

Recommended citation:
Movement Advancement Project. "Equality Maps: Foster and Adoption Laws." http://www.lgbtmap.org/equality-maps/foster_and_adoption_laws (date of access).

Percent of Adult LGBT Population Covered by Laws

*Note: These percentages reflect estimates of the LGBT adult population living in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Estimates of the LGBT adult population in the five inhabited U.S. territories are not available, and so cannot be reflected here.

58%

58 % of LGBT population lives in states that have statute, regulation, and/or agency policy that prohibits discrimination against youth in the child welfare system based on sexual orientation and gender identity

17%

17 % of LGBT population lives in states that have statute, regulation, and/or agency policy that prohibits discrimination against youth in the child welfare system based only on sexual orientation

25%

25 % of LGBT population lives in states that have no statute, regulation, and/or agency policy on discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in child welfare

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 Child Welfare
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Alabama State has this law
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Data current as of 06/25/2019
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