5 Best and Worst States to Move to Start an LGBTQ+ Family

Deciding where to raise a family is a big decision for any couple, but it can be more involved for members of the LGBTQIA+ community.

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What does LGBTQIA+ stand for?

What does LGBTQIA+ stand for?

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer or questioning, intersex, asexual, and allied people. The “+” represents additional community members not represented in the acronym. For the bulk of this piece we’ve shortened it to LGBTQ+ for concision.

Aside from considering housing prices, job prospects, and cost of living factors, you have to take other factors into account too—like a state’s hate crime and anti-discrimination laws, adoption laws, and other circumstances that can affect your family.

To make your decision a bit easier, we dug into the data to identify the best and worst states to move to start an LGBTQ+ family.

Read on to see which states rose to the top and which have a ways to go.

Best & Worst States to Start a LGBTQ+ Family

Factors we considered

You can learn more about our ranking factors in the section below. If you want to get straight to our list, click here.

Laws vary from state to state, and although you may enjoy living in a particular location, we wanted to ensure your rights are protected as well.

With this in mind, we gave precedence to safety and equality considerations over community-related factors in our rankings.

Hate crime laws

Hate crime laws are used to investigate and prosecute crimes motivated by various types of bias. Unfortunately, the defined biases vary from state to state.

While some states’ definitions include sexual orientation and gender identity, others do not.

Anti-discrimination laws

As with hate crime laws, anti-discrimination laws protect vulnerable communities from unjust treatment that’s motivated by bias. These laws protect against discrimination in five key categories:

  • Employment
  • Housing
  • Public accommodations
  • CreditPublic employment (state employees require a separate set of protections since the Employment category only covers employees of privately owned companies)

Some states’ laws protect you from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in each of those five areas while other states’ anti-discrimination laws cover only a few or none at all.

Adoption laws

Although LGBTQ+ individuals can adopt in most states, some states’ statutes vary as to whether or not same-sex couples can adopt jointly.

A few states don’t even address LGBTQ+ families in their statues, making the process more difficult for their LGBTQ+ residents.

Conversion therapy laws for minors

Some states have laws that prohibit licensed mental health practitioners from subjecting LGBTQ+ minors to conversion therapy, a harmful practice that attempts to change a minor’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

The vast majority of states have no such law in place, but many individual cities within those states have local conversion therapy bans.

LGBTQ+ population density

The population density of the LGBTQ+ community differs from state to state. A high LGBTQ+ population density can be a good indicator of an area’s resources, social climate, and sense of community.

Other supplemental considerations

Although we placed the most weight on the factors listed above, other factors played a role as we considered our rankings as well:

  • Overall equality by state (meaning positive laws and policies exist that drive equality for members of the LGBTQ+ community)
  • Number of businesses that made the Human Rights Campaign’s “Best Places to Work in 2018” list
  • Number of same-sex couples
  • Number of pride centers in each state

Move.org’s 5 best states to move to start an LGBTQ+ Family

#1: California

#1 State for LGBTQ+ Families

California checks all our boxes for raising an LGBTQ+ family. Hate crime laws cover both sexual orientation and gender identity, and anti-discrimination laws protect LGBTQ+ individuals in every category except for credit. Conversion therapy on minors is also banned within the state.

Adoption laws allow same-sex couples to adopt, meaning it’s a great area to move if you’re planning to adopt another member into your family someday.

The LGBTQ+ population density is quite high in California, too, coming in at 4.9% of the population, with almost 1.5 million LGBT-identifying people

Additional factors to consider

  • 21 pride centers are located in California.
  • 81 businesses in the state made the Human Rights Campaign’s “Best Places to Work in 2018” list.
  • 98,153 same-sex couples reside there, with 16% of them raising children.
  • There are 7.8 same-sex couples per 1,000 households.

Median home sale price

  • $478,200

Best cities for LGBTQ+ families in California

  • Long Beach
  • Los Angeles
  • Sacramento
  • San Francisco
  • San Jose
  • San Diego

#2: Illinois

#2 Best State for LGBTQ+ Families

Anti-discrimination laws in the Land of Lincoln protect LGBTQ+ individuals in all five major categories (employment, housing, public accommodations, credit, and state employment). Hate crime laws are also comprehensive and cover both sexual orientation and gender identity, helping you feel safe in your decision to move there.

Conversion therapy for minors is banned within the state, as well.

Illinois’s adoption laws cater to same-sex couples petitioning for joint adoption, making adoption easier in Illinois than in other states.

If community is high on your priority list, Illinois is a good option. It has the second-highest number of LGBT-identifying residents, with 385,142 individuals making up its LGBTQ+ community.

Additional factors to consider

  • 5 pride centers are located in Illinois.
  • 48 businesses made the Human Rights Campaign’s “Best Places to Work in 2018” list.
  • 23,049 same-sex couples live in Illinois, with 16.6% of them raising children.
  • There are 4.77 same-sex couples per 1,000 households.

Median home sale price

  • $201,500

Best cities for LGBTQ+ families in Illinois

  • Chicago
  • Aurora
  • Joliet

#3: Hawaii

#3 Best State for LGBTQ+ Families

Photo by Christian Joudrey on Unsplash

Living near clear blue water and white sandy beaches is certainly reason enough to want to move your family to Hawaii, but a host of equality-focused state laws and policies make it a great choice too.

Hawaii’s hate crime laws cover both sexual orientation and gender identity, and its anti-discrimination laws address four of the five categories. (Credit-related issues aren’t covered.)

Adoption laws in Hawaii are also favorable for LGBTQ+ families since same-sex couples can petition for joint adoption.

Hawaii’s LGBTQ+ population density is also one of the highest on our list at 3.8% of the state’s population. This means there are currently 42,581 LGBT-identifying individuals throughout the islands.

Additional factors to consider

  • There are many positive laws and policies in place that help drive equality for LGBT people in Hawaii.
  • 1 pride center is located in Hawaii.
  • 3,239 same-sex couples live in Hawaii, and 15.8% of them are raising children.
  • There are 5.95 same-sex couples per 1,000 households.

Median home listing price

  • $599,950

Best counties for LGBTQ+ families in Hawaii

  • Hawaii
  • Maui
  • Honolulu

#4: Connecticut

#4 Best State for LGBTQ+ Families

Photo by Sam Burriss on Unsplash

If New England is calling your name, Connecticut is a great option to lay down your roots.

Although it has the lowest LGBTQ+ population density in our top five at 3.5% (98,811 individuals), it scores high marks for safety and equality-related policies.

Connecticut’s anti-discrimination laws cover all five major categories, and its hate crime laws address sexual orientation and gender identity. You should feel safe in your new home, and Connecticut’s policies lend themselves to protecting your rights and your family.

If you’re looking to adopt in the state of Connecticut, the state has some work to do. Connecticut allows joint parent adoptions for same-sex couples. LGBTQ+ singles, however, may face certain restrictions as the state is not required to place a child with a gay, lesbian, or bisexual individual.

Additional factors to consider

  • Conversion therapy is banned for minors.
  • 1 pride center is located in Connecticut.
  • 13 businesses made the Human Rights Campaign’s “Best Places to Work in 2018” list.
  • 7,852 same-sex couples live in Connecticut, and 17% of them are raising children.
  • There are 5.72 same-sex couples per 1,000 households.

Median home sale price

  • $251,300

Best cities for LGBTQ+ families in Connecticut

  • Stamford
  • New Haven
  • Hartford
  • New Britain

#5: Maryland

#5 Best State for LGBTQ+ Families

Photo by Bob Burkhard on Unsplash

Maryland rounds out our best five states to move to start an LGBTQ+ family. Like the other states at the top of our list, it has a large LGBTQ+ population and positive policies for all our main ranking factors.

Both hate crime and anti-discrimination laws address all of the important considerations we looked for. Hate crime laws cover gender identity and sexual orientation, and anti-discrimination laws protect LGBTQ+ individuals in all five key categories (employment, housing, public accommodations, credit, and public employment).

State law also bans conversion therapy for minors.

Maryland scored well on its LGBTQ+ family-related laws and policies, as same-sex couples can petition for joint adoption within the state.

Additional factors to consider

  • There is an LGBTQ+ population density of 3.9%, with 182,041 LGBT-identifying individuals.
  • 2 pride centers are located in Maryland.
  • 9 businesses made the Human Rights Campaign’s “Best Places to Work in 2018” list.
  • 12,538 same-sex couples live in Maryland, and 20.3% of them are raising children.
  • There are 5.81 same-sex couples per 1,000 households.

Median home sale price

  • $270,100

Best cities for LGBTQ+ families in Maryland

  • Baltimore
  • Frederick
  • Rockville
  • College Park

Honorable mention: Best cities in the US to move to raise an LGBTQ+ family

Although our study focused mostly on what makes each state fit for LGBTQ+ families, a couple of cities stood out too.

Washington, D.C.

If individual cities qualified for our rankings, our nation’s capital would be number one. It ranks high for equality based on its inclusion of LGBTQ+ rights in local laws and policies, and it has one of the highest LGBTQ+ population densities in the country at 8.6%.

New York City, New York

The Big Apple is another great choice for LGBTQ+ families, especially if you’re concerned about your work environment. New York has 114 businesses that made the Human Rights Campaign’s “Best Places to Work in 2018” list—that’s over 30 businesses more than in the entirety of California, our number-one state.

Move.org’s 5 worst states to move to start an LGBTQ+ Family

Although the following states scored low on our overall ranking factors, you don’t have to rule them out entirely. Cost of living and other considerations may make them more appealing to you.

If your heart is still set on moving to one of these states, each still has a few cities that are good landing spots for LGBTQ+ families.

#1: West Virginia

Unlike our top five states, many of West Virginia’s laws and policies do not specifically define protections for LGBTQ+ individuals.

Anti-discrimination and hate crime laws make no mention of protections for acts motivated by LGBT-related biases. There is also no law within the state banning conversion therapy for minors.

Despite its current lack of equality-focused laws and policies, West Virginia does allow same-sex couples to adopt.

Median home sale price

  • $171,400

Best cities for LGBTQ+ families in West Virginia

  • Charleston
  • Huntington

#2: Virginia

Virginia isn’t much different from its western counterpart mentioned above. Neither hate crime laws nor anti-discrimination laws list specific protections for members of the LGBTQ+ community, with the exception of anti-discrimination protections for public employees. Conversion therapy for minors also isn’t banned by law in Virginia.

Same-sex couples in the state can petition for joint adoption.

Median home sale price

  • $269,400

Best places for LGBTQ+ families in Virginia

  • Alexandria
  • Arlington County

#3: Wisconsin

America’s Dairyland doesn’t fare quite as poorly as the first two states in our bottom five.

Although hate crimes in the state don’t cover gender identity, they do cover crimes related to sexual orientation–related biases. Anti-discrimination laws also cover sexual orientation, but only in the categories of employment, public accommodation, and public employment—gender identity, however, isn’t protected in any of the five key categories.

Adoption is still difficult in Wisconsin. LGBT singles may petition for adoption within the state, but same-sex couples could face legal restrictions for second-parent adoptions. Keep this in mind if a future adoption is part of your moving decision.

Median home sale price

  • $177,700

Best cities for LGBTQ+ families in Wisconsin

  • Madison
  • Milwaukee
  • Appleton

#4: South Dakota

Moving your family close to Mount Rushmore may make for some historical scenery, but South Dakota scores low in all our ranking factors.

The tally of South Dakota’s overall equality policy is negative, meaning its laws don’t do much to protect the LGBTQ+ population, and some even drive equality down.

Hate crime and anti-discrimination laws both lack protections for LGBTQ+ citizens, and South Dakota currently has no law banning conversion therapy for minors.

As with Wisconsin, adoption in South Dakota is possible for LGBT singles, but same-sex couples may have trouble if they’re hoping to petition for a second-parent adoption through a private agency (depending on the agency, of course).

Median home listing price

  • $229,900

Best city for LGBTQ+ families

  • Brookings

#5: North Dakota

North Dakota isn’t much different from its southern neighbor from an equality perspective. Although you’ll experience wide-open spaces and a sparsely populated state (North Dakota is the third-least populated in the country), LGBTQ+ residents won’t experience the same protections as they would in other parts of the country.

Crimes motivated by LGBT-related biases aren’t covered under North Dakota’s hate crime laws, and its anti-discrimination laws don’t address sexual orientation or gender identity in any of the five key categories.

You’ll find a similar situation for adoption as you would in North Dakota, as well. While LGBT singles can petition for adoption, same-sex couples might experience legal restrictions for a second-parent adoption.

Median home listing price

  • $234,900

Best cities for LGBTQ+ families

  • Fargo

The best states to move to start an LGBTQ+ family, ranked 1–50

1. California
2. Illinois
3. Hawaii
4. Connecticut
5. Maryland
6. Nevada
7. New Mexico
8. New Jersey
9. Vermont
10. Oregon
11. Delaware
12. New Hampshire
13. Colorado
14. Rhode Island
15. Massachusetts
16. Florida
17. Arizona
18. Minnesota
19. Missouri
20. Maine
21. Louisiana
22. Kentucky
23. Iowa
24. Kansas
25. Washington

26. New York
27. Georgia
28. Nebraska
29. Alabama
30. Alaska
31. Arkansas
32. Idaho
33. Indiana
34. Michigan
35. Texas
36. North Carolina
37. Mississippi
38. Tennessee
39. Montana
40. Ohio
41. Pennsylvania
42. Oklahoma
43. Wyoming
44. Utah
45. South Carolina
46. North Dakota
47. South Dakota
48. Wisconsin
49. Virginia
50. West Virginia

Let us help you move your family!

We all want to find our place in the world, especially when we’re planning on starting a family. Whether you want to move to one of our best states for LGBTQ+ families or you have your eyes on another location, check out our Find-A-Mover tool to find the mover that’s right for you, or view our list of the best interstate moving companies.

Where did your state fall on our list? Do you live in a community that you feel is great for LGBTQ+ families? Let our readers know in the comments below!

Methodology

Move.org analyzed the best and worst states to live for LGBTQ+ couples and families. We decided to consider the safety of LGBTQ+ individuals first and foremost, so we ranked whether the state had hate crime laws in place, whether or not conversion therapy was allowed for minors, and whether anti-discrimination laws were set. We also looked at each state’s LGBT population to get a better picture of each area’s LGBTQ+ community.

Additionally, we looked at overall equality by state, the number of pride centers in a state, the number of LGBTQ+ friendly businesses, and the number of same-sex couples. We thought it was most important to consider safety because, although you can enjoy living somewhere, the law may not protect you from being targeted. So for this study, safety laws came first, and community came second.

Sources

Adoptive Families, “Adoption Laws by State
CenterLink, “2016 LGBT Community Center Survey Report
Human Rights Campaign Foundation, “Municipal Equality Index
Human Rights Campaign Foundation, “Corporate Equality Index
Movement and Advancement Project, “Non-Discrimination Laws
Movement and Advancement Project, “Snapshot: LGBT Equality by State
Movement and Advancement Project, “Hate Crime Laws
Movement and Advancement Project, “LGBT Populations
Movement and Advancement Project, “Conversion Therapy Laws
The Williams Institute, “Same-Sex Couple Data and Demographics
Zillow, “United States Home Prices and Values

About Colin Holmes

Colin Holmes
Colin Holmes is a Kansas City native writing and enjoying life in Utah. Over the past five years, he’s moved five times and has learned a thing or two in the process. Colin graduated from Brigham Young University and worked as a journalist, newspaper editor, and documentary film interviewer before coming to Move.org—bringing a wealth of research experience to help movers find accurate and useful information for their next big move.
  • Tito

    As much I I would like to live in a state where I could find an affordable home, feel genuinely accepted by the community I live in, it isn’t an option I have. Most people where I live “seem” to be ok with who I am, but I feel an underlying tension in our relationships. So looking forward to relocate to another area where I might not experience this masked rejection is important to me.

  • Rory Kealohi

    #luckyweliveHawaii

  • George Juego

    Having lived in CA all my life, I feel safer and accepted in Hawaii.

  • Manolo Plazas

    You spelled Florida as “Flordia”