The Best States to Start an LGBTQ+ Family

Joe Roberts
Researcher & Writer
Read More
Edited By Sarah Cimarusti
June 22, 2022
4 min read
Map highlighting best state for LGBTQ+ families

Deciding where to put down roots and start your family can be stressful, especially for LGBTQ+ parents-to-be. Despite the strides toward equality the US has made in the last decade, there are still states where LGBTQ+ individuals and families regularly experience discrimination and abuse.

To help you and your partner find a safe and accepting place to raise your family, we dug into every state’s laws and LGBTQ+ population statistics to determine which are the most LGBTQ-friendly.

Learn which states will welcome your family with open arms and which ones you should examine more closely before you move.


Key findings

  • Washington DC, though not a state, was considered for our rankings since it doesn’t belong to any single state. And, because of the district’s comprehensive laws and protections for LGBTQ+ individuals, we ranked it the best place in the country for LGBTQ+ families. The district’s overall score was 100.
  • Washington DC’s LGBTQ+ population comprises almost 10% of its total population, making DC more LGBTQ-dense than any state.
  • All of the top 10 best states for raising an LGBTQ+ family are blue states.
  • Nevada landed position #14 on our list, meaning it scored higher in our estimation than any other swing state. The state’s overall score was 79.3.
  • At position 22, Utah scored higher for LGBTQ-inclusive laws than any other red state. The state’s overall score was 58.7.
  • South Carolina, Arkansas, and Wyoming are the three worst states to raise an LGBTQ+ family. None of these states have laws or policies protecting LGBTQ+ individuals. In our rankings, the states scored 7.3, 6.7, and 6.7 respectively.
  • 20 states have passed conversion therapy bans in the last 5 years. 22 states still have no laws or policies banning conversion therapy.

Methodology

States were scored using a points system based on the legal protections they afford LGBTQ+ citizens and how many LGBTQ+ people reside in them. The points went from 1 (the worst possible score) to 100 (the best possible score). We didn’t factor in other quality of life elements like affordability, climate, or culture.

These are the laws and factors we looked for in each state:

  • Nondiscrimination laws: States with laws that prevent discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity scored higher than states without such laws.1,2,3,4,5
  • Adoption and second/step parent laws: States with laws that prevent LGBTQ+ discrimination by adoption agencies scored higher than states without such laws.6,7,8
  • Conversion therapy laws: States where mental health professionals are prohibited from subjecting LGBTQ+ minors to “conversion therapy” scored higher than states that permit these practices.9
  • Hate crime laws: States where criminals can face additional or enhanced penalties for committing crimes that target people because of their race, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity scored higher than states without such laws.10
  • Transgender health care: States that ban insurance exclusions for transgender health care scored higher than states that don’t.11
  • LGBTQ+ population density: States with larger LGBTQ+ populations scored higher than states where fewer LGBTQ+ live or feel comfortable coming out.12

To help you find an affordable place to live, we’ve also listed Zillow’s average home price in each state,13 though we didn’t factor home prices into our rankings.

We’d also like to note that we didn’t look into local laws. Some cities in states that scored poorly in our rankings may have more inclusive local laws and may be good options for your family.


The most and least LGBTQ-friendly states

The 10 best states to start an LGBTQ+ family

1. District of Columbia

Overall score: 100.0

LGBTQ+ population: 9.8%

Average home price: $826,652

2. Massachusetts

Overall score: 87.6

LGBTQ+ population: 5.4%

Average home price: $596,682

3. California
Overall score: 87.3

LGBTQ+ population: 5.3%

Average home price: $808,100

4. Vermont
Overall score: 87.0

LGBTQ+ population: 5.2%

Average home price: $350,943

5. New York
Overall score: 86.8

LGBTQ+ population: 5.1%

Average home price: $363,969

6. Maine
Overall score: 86.2

LGBTQ+ population: 4.9%

Average home price: $353,207

7. Oregon
Overall score: 85.9

LGBTQ+ population: 5.6%

Average home price: $525,822

8. Colorado
Overall score: 85.4

LGBTQ+ population: 4.6%

Average home price: $595,401

9. Illinois
Overall score: 84.5

LGBTQ+ population: 4.3%

Average home price: $262,837

10. New Jersey
Overall score: 83.9

LGBTQ+ population: 4.1%

Average home price: $467,510

The 10 worst states to start an LGBTQ+ family

1. Arkansas
Overall score: 6.7

LGBTQ+ population: 3.3%

Average home price: $174,095

2. Wyoming
Overall score: 6.7

LGBTQ+ population: 3.3%

Average home price: $315,337

3. South Carolina
Overall score: 7.3

LGBTQ+ population: 3.5%

Average home price: $283,252

4. Alabama
Overall score: 11.1

LGBTQ+ population: 3.1%

Average home price: $199,668

5. Mississippi
Overall score: 12.3

LGBTQ+ population: 3.5%

Average home price: $160,842

6. Oklahoma
Overall score: 13.1

LGBTQ+ population: 3.8%

Average home price: $177,134

7. Texas
Overall score: 13.9

LGBTQ+ population: 4.1%

Average home price: $304,036

8. Idaho
Overall score: 15.3

LGBTQ+ population: 2.8

Average home price: $475,065

9. South Dakota
Overall score: 15.8

LGBTQ+ population: 3.0%

Average home price: $287,143

10. Arizona
Overall score: 17.1

LGBTQ+ population: 4.5%

Average home price: $444,640

Heads Up
Find a mover

If you’re eager to start your family ASAP, but you first need to move to a state where you and your loved ones will feel safer and more accepted, use one of our favorite moving companies to get there.


Recommended resources

Like we said, we only ranked states by metrics directly related to LGBTQ+ issues. But these probably aren’t the sole factors you’re considering when you make a big move. You might also be looking for somewhere with warm weather, a fun nightlife, or affordable childcare.

For that reason, we recommend cross-referencing this list with other guides we’ve published to find the Goldilocks home for you and your new family.

Sources

  1. Movement Advancement Project, “State Nondiscrimination Laws: Employment,”  November 1, 2021. Accessed June 8, 2022.
  2. Movement Advancement Project, “State Nondiscrimination Laws: Housing,”  November 1, 2021. Accessed June 8, 2022.
  3. Movement Advancement Project, “State Nondiscrimination Laws: Public Accommodations,”  November 17, 2021. Accessed June 8, 2022.
  4. Movement Advancement Project, “State Nondiscrimination Laws: Credit and Lending,”  May 5, 2022. Accessed June 8, 2022.
  5. Movement Advancement Project, “Employment Nondiscrimination Protections for State Employees,”  April 30, 2021. Accessed June 6, 2022.
  6. Movement Advancement Project, “LGBTQ Youth: State Laws, Regulations, or Agency Policies Related to LGBTQ Youth in the Child Welfare System,” May 17, 2022. Accessed June 8, 2022. 
  7. Movement Advancement Project, “Relationship & Parental Recognition: Foster Care Nondiscrimination,” May 19, 2022. Accessed June 8, 2022.
  8. Movement Advancement Project, “Relationship & Parental Recognition: Adoption Nondiscrimination,” May 19, 2022. Accessed June 6, 2022.
  9. Movement Advancement Project, “Conversion “Therapy” Laws,” July 16, 2021. Accessed June 8, 2022.
  10. Movement Advancement Project, “Hate Crime Laws,” July 13, 2021. Accessed June 8, 2022.
  11. Human Rights Campaign, “State Maps.” Accessed June 8, 2022.
  12. Movement Advancement Project, “LGBT Populations.” Accessed June 8, 2022.
  13. Zillow, “Home Values.” Accessed June 8, 2022.

LGBTQ-friendliness by state

Rank
State
Conversion Therapy Laws
Adoption Laws
Hate Crime Laws
Anti-Discrimination Laws
LGBTQ Population
Score
Avg Home Prices (April)
1District of Columbia23299.80%96.4"$826,652"
2Massachusetts232115.40%87.6"$596,682"
3California232115.30%87.3"$808,100"
4Vermont232115.20%87"$350,943"
5New York232115.10%86.8"$363,969"
6Oregon232105.60%86.4"$525,822"
7Maine232114.90%86.2"$353,207"
8Colorado232114.60%85.4"$595,401"
9Illinois232114.30%84.5"$262,837"
10New Jersey232114.10%83.9"$467,510"
11Connecticut232113.90%83.4"$372,751"
12Washington222115.20%82"$632,403"
13New Hampshire23294.70%82"$441,367"
14Nevada22295.50%79.3"$471,106"
15Hawaii222104.60%78.5"$1,007,573"
16New Mexico222104.50%78.3"$287,884"
16Delaware222104.50%78.3"$346,975"
18Maryland222104.20%77.4"$409,870"
19Rhode Island231114.50%75.1"$431,736"
20Minnesota122114.10%68.9"$334,774"
21Virginia22103.90%66.6"$371,995"
22Utah2263.70%58.7"$579,417"
23Iowa2193.60%43.9"$189,583"
24Michigan110.564.00%39.6"$229,292"
25Wisconsin1163.80%39"$261,509"
26North Carolina120.524.00%37.3"$310,791"
27Georgia0.524.50%35.1"$307,680"
28Missouri1213.80%34.9"$226,245"
29Ohio20.54.54.30%32.7"$207,450"
30Kentucky2133.40%32.4"$193,480"
31Pennsylvania10.564.10%29.9"$262,082"
32North Dakota110.52.52.70%29.5"$277,193"
33Alaska20.53.53.70%29.2"$328,726"
34Florida0.5124.60%29"$396,161"
35Montana20.542.90%27.8"$443,004"
36Indiana224.50%23.7"$216,550"
37West Virginia20.54.00%23.7"$132,521"
38Tennessee113.50%22.3"$287,498"
39Nebraska113.80%19.9"$236,196"
40Kansas-1143.30%19"$202,717"
41Louisiana13.90%18.4"$210,679"
42Arizona-1114.50%16.9"$444,640"
43South Dakota10.53.00%15.8"$287,143"
44Idaho10.52.80%15.3"$475,065"
45Texas-114.10%13.9"$304,036"
46Oklahoma0.53.80%13.1"$177,134"
47Mississippi0.53.50%12.3"$160,842"
48Alabama0.5-10.53.10%11.1"$199,668"
49South Carolina3.50%7.3"$283,252"
50Arkansas3.30%6.7"$174,095"
50Wyoming3.30%6.7"$315,337"
Joe Roberts
Written by
Joe Roberts
Joe Roberts is a professional writer with a degree in writing studies and over four years of copywriting experience. He previously worked at Overstock.com, where he wrote about furniture, home decor, and moving. Joe has moved all over Utah, so he knows his way around a moving truck—and he spends his time (and money) expanding his personal library so it will be even heavier next time he moves.