Minnesota gets top rating in LGBTQ equality report

    Minnesota received the highest ranking in an annual assessment of state policies affecting LGBTQ people, released today by the Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights organization.

    The state is one of 17 categorized as “working toward innovative equality” by the State Equality Index, which takes into account each state’s nondiscrimination, criminal justice, health and safety laws, among other policies.

    This year’s index “documents how states were instrumental in advancing equality through pro-LGBTQ legislation, policies and proposals,” Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David said in a statement. “In the absence of federal non-discrimination protections for the LGBTQ community, states must put policies in place to ensure equality for their residents, workers and visitors.”

    Minnesota has a strong set of nondiscrimination laws that bar discrimination based on both gender identity and sexual orientation in employment, housing, public accommodations, education, adoption, foster care, insurance, credit, jury selection, higher education and state employment, according to the index. 

    The state ticked off nearly all the boxes in the report’s health and safety category, which assesses transgender health care coverage, data collection and whether residents can update their gender markers and names on identification.

    Minnesota also met many benchmarks for youth protections with its anti-bullying laws but doesn’t include some measures listed as positive in the report, like a ban on conversion therapy — though the Legislature has considered it — or LGBTQ-inclusive sex education laws, among other policies. 

    Per the report, there are few “bad” laws on the books in Minnesota. The state code includes two of the 15 policies the Human Rights Campaign lists as “negative,” which include laws restricting LGBTQ topics in schools, sodomy laws and transgender exclusions in state Medicaid coverage.

    The “bad” laws in Minnesota criminalize “behaviors that carry a low or negligible risk of HIV transmission,” according to the index, and create religious exemptions in nondiscrimination laws.

    The full Human Rights Campaign 2019 State Equality Index is available here.

    Rilyn Eischens
    Rilyn Eischens is a data reporter with the Reformer. Rilyn is a Minnesota native and has worked in newsrooms in the Twin Cities, Iowa, Texas and most recently Virginia, where she covered education for The Staunton News Leader. She's an alumna of the Dow Jones News Fund data journalism program and the Minnesota Daily. When Rilyn isn't in the newsroom, she likes to read, add to her plant collection and try new recipes.