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Safe Schools Laws

Anti-bullying laws protect LGBTQ students from bullying by other students, teachers, and school staff on the basis of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. This map shows state anti-bullying laws that explicitly enumerate sexual orientation and/or gender identity as protected characteristics, as well as states that explicitly interpret existing prohibitions against sex discrimination to include discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. In some states, school regulation or teacher code prohibits bullying on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identity. These states are only reflected on this map if these are the only available protections in the state.

Please note, other rights may exist or be recognized where you live; this map is not intended as legal advice or an indication of your rights.
United States Map
Washington New York U.S. Virgin Islands Puerto Rico Guam Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands American Samoa New Hampshire Vermont Virginia Pennsylvania New York Maine West Virginia Ohio Kentucky Indiana Michigan Illinois Wisconsin North Carolina South Carolina Tennessee Georgia Florida Mississippi Missouri Arkansas Louisiana Iowa Minnesota Oklahoma Kansas Nebraska South Dakota North Dakota Texas 33 Colorado Wyoming Montana Idaho Arizona Utah Nevada Oregon California Hawaii Alaska Massachusetts Rhode Island Connecticut New Jersey Delaware Maryland Washington D.C. New Hampshire Vermont
  • Law prohibits bullying on the bases of sexual orientation and gender identity(21 states, 1 territory + D.C.)
  • Law prohibits bullying on the basis of sexual orientation only (0 states, 2 territories)
  • School regulation or teacher code prohibits bullying on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity (3 states, 1 territory)
  • School regulation or teacher code prohibits bullying on the basis of sexual orientation only (0 states, 0 territories)
  • No law protecting LGBTQ students (26 states, 1 territory)
  • State has law preventing passage or enforcement of local nondiscrimination ordinances (2 states, 0 territories)
  • Law prohibits bullying on the basis of association with someone with a listed characteristic (12 states, 0 territories + D.C.)
"Association with someone with a listed characteristic" means the law prohibits bullying a student based on their relationship to someone else with a listed characteristic. These laws protect students with, for example, LGBTQ friends or family members.

Additionally, while some states, districts, and schools have non-enumerated anti-bullying laws or policies (policies which generally prohibit bullying, but do not list specific characteristics like race or sexual orientation upon which a student might be bullied), research by the
GLSEN finds that such laws have no impact on rates of anti-LGBTQ bullying. Therefore, these laws are not included on this map.

For additional information about anti-bullying laws more generally, visit
StopBullying.gov

Recommended citation:
Movement Advancement Project. "Equality Maps: Safe Schools Laws." 
https://www.lgbtmap.org/equality-maps/safe_school_laws (date of access).
Trevor Lifeline - (866-488-7386) - You can call the Trevor Lifeline to connect with a trained volunteer counselor who is ready to listen. It’s free and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Percent of Adult LGBTQ Population Covered by Laws

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

50%

50 % of LGBTQ population lives in states that have laws prohibiting bullying on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity

0%

0 % of LGBTQ population lives in states that have laws prohibiting bullying on the bases of sexual orientation only

2%

2 % of LGBTQ population lives in states that have school regulations or teacher codes prohibiting bullying on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity

0%

0 % of LGBTQ population lives in states that have school regulations or teacher codes prohibiting bullying on the basis of sexual orientation only

48%

48 % of LGBTQ population lives in states that have no law protecting LGBTQ students (including 2% who live in states prohibiting local protections)

School nondiscrimination laws protect LGBTQ students from discrimination in school, including being unfairly denied access to facilities, sports teams, or clubs on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity. This map shows state school nondiscrimination laws that explicitly enumerate sexual orientation and/or gender identity as protected characteristics, as well as states that explicitly interpret existing prohibitions against sex discrimination to include discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. In some states, school regulation or teacher code prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identity. These states are only reflected on this map if these are the only available protections in the state.

Please note, other rights may exist or be recognized where you live; this map is not intended as legal advice or an indication of your rights.
United States Map
  • Law prohibits discrimination in schools on the bases of sexual orientation and gender identity(17 states, 1 territory + D.C.)
  • Law prohibits discrimination in schools on the basis of sexual orientation only (1 state, 0 territories)
  • State explicitly interprets existing prohibition on sex discrimination to include sexual orientation and/or gender identity (see note) (2 states, 0 territories)
  • School regulation or teacher code prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identity (see note) (2 states, 1 territory)
  • No law protecting LGBTQ students (29 states, 3 territories)
  • State has law preventing schools or districts from adding LGBTQ protections to nondiscrimination policies (2 states, 0 territories)
  • State agency issued explicit guidelines for transgender inclusion in school facilities (4 states, 1 territory)
  • Law prohibits discrimination in schools on the basis of association with someone with a listed characteristic (2 states, 0 territories)
NOTES: 
*In March 2020, Virginia's governor signed HB 145 into law, requiring the state's Department of Education to develop model policies for inclusion of transgender students in schools by the end of 2020. Once these policies are developed, this map will be updated accordingly.  
*Maryland's regulations prohibit discrimination on the bases of sexual orientation and gender identity. See State-by-State Statutes for more information.
*New Mexico's regulations prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation only.

*Utah's regulations prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation only.
*Northern Mariana Islands' regulations prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation only.

"Association with someone with a listed characteristic" means the law prohibits discrimination against a student based on their relationship to someone else with a listed characteristic. These laws protect students with, for example, LGBTQ friends or family members.


In 2014, the Department of Education issued
guidance (see section B-2) that, under Title IX of the Civil Rights Act, existing prohibitions against sex discrimination also mean that schools cannot discriminate against transgender students or students who do not conform to gender stereotypes. The Office of Civil Rights began investigating claims of discrimination based on gender identity in public schools and universities. However, in early 2017, the Department Of Education rescinded this guidance. To view our map on federal circuit court decisions interpreting Title IX to include sexual orientation and gender identity, click here. For more information, contact GLSEN.

Recommended citation:
Movement Advancement Project. "Equality Maps: Safe Schools Laws."
https://www.lgbtmap.org/equality-maps/safe_school_laws (date of access).
Trevor Lifeline - (866-488-7386) - You can call the Trevor Lifeline to connect with a trained volunteer counselor who is ready to listen. It’s free and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Percent of Adult LGBTQ Population Covered by Laws

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

46%

46 % of LGBTQ population lives in states that have laws prohibiting discrimination in schools on the bases of sexual orientation and gender identity

2%

2 % of LGBTQ population lives in states that have laws prohibiting discrimination in schools on the basis of sexual orientation only

7%

7 % of LGBTQ population lives in states that explicitly interpret existing prohibition on sex discrimination to include sexual orientation and/or gender identity

3%

3 % of LGBTQ population lives in states that have school regulations or teacher codes that prohibit that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity

43%

43 % of LGBTQ population lives in states that have no law protecting LGBTQ students from discrimination (including 2% who live in states prohibiting local protections)

Anti-LGBTQ school laws come in many forms. This map shows (1) “Don’t Say Gay” policies, which restrict teachers and staff from even talking about LGBTQ issues and people, (2) state laws that prevent schools or districts from adding sexual orientation and/or gender identity to their school's anti-bullying and anti-discrimination policies, and (3) state laws that prevent transgender students from participating in sports according to their gender identity. For more information about each of these, see below the map. 
United States Map
  • State has "Don't Say Gay" regulation (5 states, 0 territories)
  • State has law preventing schools or districts from adding LGBTQ protections to anti-bullying and nondiscrimination policies (2 states, 0 territories)
  • State has law preventing transgender students from participating in sports consistent with their gender identity (1 state, 0 territories)
  • No anti-LGBTQ school law or regulation (42 states, 5 territories + D.C.)
Many "Don't Say Gay" laws are written to bar any discussion of LGBTQ identities or sexualities within sex education programming, but the laws are often vague and can be misapplied by schools to limit discussion and inclusion of LGBTQ people and issues in other parts of the curriculum, school events and programs, and even extracurricular activities (for example, by being seen as prohibiting Gay-Straight Alliances). For more information, contact GLSEN.

Anti-enumeration laws prevent schools and districts from listing any type of protected classes (such as sexual orientation, gender identity, race, disability and more) in their anti-bullying or nondiscrimination policies.
Research shows such laws are not effective at protecting marginalized students from bullying or discrimination.

While Idaho is currently the only state to legislate whether transgender student athletes can play sports, many state high school athletic associations have developed their own policies, which also vary widely from state to state. For more on these associations' policies, see 
Trans Athlete's tracking. Additionally, while the other policies on this map only apply to K-12 settings, Idaho's law applies to both K-12 and higher education.

Recommended citation:
Movement Advancement Project. "Equality Maps: Safe Schools Laws." https://www.lgbtmap.org/equality-maps/safe_school_laws. Accessed [date of access].
Trevor Lifeline - (866-488-7386) - You can call the Trevor Lifeline to connect with a trained volunteer counselor who is ready to listen. It’s free and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Percent of Adult LGBTQ Population Covered by Laws

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

12%

12 % of LGBTQ population lives in states with "Don't Say Gay" regulations that prohibit teachers from discussing LGBTQ issues

2%

2 % of LGBTQ population lives in states that prohibit enumeration in anti-bullying and anti-discrimination policies

1%

1 % of LGBTQ population lives in states that have laws preventing transgender students from participating in sports consistent with their gender identity

85%

85 % of LGBTQ population lives in states that have no anti-LGBTQ school laws or regulation

Key
  • State has law that only covers sexual orientationLaw covers sexual orientation
  • State has law that covers sexual orientation and gender identityLaw covers sexual orientation and gender identity/expression
  • Law covers association
  • Indicates an anti-LGBTQ law
State Anti-bullying Nondiscrimination Anti-LGBTQ laws Year Passed
  Citations Citations Citations
Alabama State does not have this law 1992
Alaska
American Samoa
Arizona
Arkansas
State has law that covers sexual orientation and gender identity
2011
California
State has law that covers sexual orientation and gender identity
State has law that covers sexual orientation and gender identity
2002
Colorado
State has law that covers sexual orientation and gender identity
State has law that covers sexual orientation and gender identity
2008
Connecticut
State has law that covers sexual orientation and gender identity
State has law that covers sexual orientation and gender identity
2001 (SO); 2011 (GI)
Delaware
State has law that covers sexual orientation and gender identity
District of Columbia
State has law that covers sexual orientation and gender identity
State has law that covers sexual orientation and gender identity
2001
Florida
Georgia 2011
Guam
State has law that only covers sexual orientation
2011 (bullying)
Hawaii
State has law that covers sexual orientation and gender identity
2008
Idaho
Illinois
State has law that covers sexual orientation and gender identity
State has law that covers sexual orientation and gender identity
2010
Indiana
Iowa
State has law that covers sexual orientation and gender identity
State has law that covers sexual orientation and gender identity
2007
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana State does not have this law
Maine
State has law that covers sexual orientation and gender identity
State has law that covers sexual orientation and gender identity
Maryland
State has law that covers sexual orientation and gender identity
Massachusetts
State has law that covers sexual orientation and gender identity
State has law that covers sexual orientation and gender identity
1993(Nondiscrim Sexual Orientation)/2011(Nondiscrim Gender Identity)/2014 (Anti-bullying)
Michigan
Minnesota
State has law that covers sexual orientation and gender identity
State has law that covers sexual orientation and gender identity
1993 (Non-Discrim)/2014 (Anti-Bullying)
Mississippi State does not have this law 1998
Missouri State does not have this law
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
State has law that covers sexual orientation and gender identity
State has law that covers sexual orientation and gender identity
New Hampshire
State has law that covers sexual orientation and gender identity
State has law that covers sexual orientation and gender identity
2010
New Jersey
State has law that covers sexual orientation and gender identity
State has law that covers sexual orientation and gender identity
2002
New Mexico
State has law that covers sexual orientation and gender identity
New York
State has law that covers sexual orientation and gender identity
State has law that covers sexual orientation and gender identity
2010
North Carolina
State has law that covers sexual orientation and gender identity
2009
North Dakota
Northern Mariana Islands 2002 (discrimination); 2011 (bullying)
Ohio
Oklahoma State does not have this law 1995
Oregon
State has law that covers sexual orientation and gender identity
State has law that covers sexual orientation and gender identity
2007
Pennsylvania
Puerto Rico
State has law that covers sexual orientation and gender identity
State has law that covers sexual orientation and gender identity
Rhode Island
State has law that covers sexual orientation and gender identity
2011
South Carolina
South Dakota State does not have this law
Tennessee
Texas State does not have this law 1991
U.S. Virgin Islands
State has law that only covers sexual orientation
2014 (bullying): 2017 (discrimination)
Utah
Vermont
State has law that covers sexual orientation and gender identity
State has law that covers sexual orientation and gender identity
2001(Sexual Orientation)/2007(Gender Identity/Expression)
Virginia
State has law that covers sexual orientation and gender identity
Washington
State has law that covers sexual orientation and gender identity
State has law that covers sexual orientation and gender identity
2002(Sexual Orientation)/2009(Gender Identity/Expression)
West Virginia
Wisconsin
State has law that only covers sexual orientation
2001
Wyoming
Data current as of 07/24/2020
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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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