Georgia Can Take Some Pride In Being More Open To LGBTQ People

Gay pride flag with multicolored horizontal stripes

By John A. Tures, Professor of Political Science, LaGrange College

As Pride Month commences, Georgia was rated one of the most improved states for being welcoming to gay and transgender people. That’s a good reason for Peach States inclusiveness, but there are ways Georgia could still improve its scores on the Out Leadership Index.

“States that made the greatest gains in the 2024 index were Michigan, Georgia and Oregon, which adopted pro-LGBTQ+ legislation and where elected officials spoke out on LGBTQ+ rights,” reported Jessica Guynn with USA Today.

Georgia scored well on the “No Promo Homo” scale, earning top marks for that as well as its religious exclusions. It also measured well on youth support. Out Leadership gave good marks to Senators Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, but not so much for Governor Brian Kemp. Georgia did well at the food insecurity differential. The raters gave Georgia satisfactory scores for the unemployment differential and “Income over 24k” but that latter factor could be due to different income levels across the country, especially compared to the West and East Coast.

The state fared less well on being able to change birth certificates and drivers’ licenses, and scored only modestly on other non-discrimination measures, health support, state employee coverage, HIV criminalization, and safety at work. This explains why Georgia is only 29th overall, though the state second place in improvement in scores from 2023.

To sum up these scores, the evaluators determined the level of discrimination and protections for LGBTQ people in the state, and whether people are subjected to government regulations for who they are when it comes to sexual orientation.

It’s worth noting that only North Carolina joins Georgia achieved the same mid-level score on the Out Leadership Index for Southern states. Florida may have once been there, until recent sessions targeted LGBTQ people. Arkansas occupied the lowest score among all 50 states plus the District of Columbia, with Louisiana and South Carolina taking the next two lowest spots for a state in the ranking. You can also find Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, and Kentucky in the bottom ten.

Among those who joined Georgia in improving the business climate for LGBTQ individuals, you can find Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan and Oregon, as well as Vermont. Virginia was the only other Southern state with a modest improvement in scores.

There may be an overall benefit for states that are more inclusive. As the developers of the index report “For over 13 years, Out Leadership has made the case that LGBTQ+ equality is a driving force for the global business community. Time and again, our research has demonstrated that businesses that operate in LGBTQ+- friendly environments benefit from stronger talent pools, see increased employee satisfaction and productivity, and enjoy robust customer loyalty. Put simply, inclusive states build strong economies.”

The Out Leadership Team developed the index six years ago and had some findings for companies as well that promote equality. Their list of company sponsors is quite impressive, and for good reason. “Research demonstrates that companies where LGBTQ+ people are supported enjoy increased profitability, stock prices, and employee productivity. Our Index suggests that a similar relationship exists on a state policy level and that states that aim to make LGBTQ+ people more welcome legally and culturally experience significant rewards for doing so, particularly in terms of residents’ well-being and productivity.”

John A. Tures is a professor of political science at LaGrange College in LaGrange, Georgia. His views are his own. He can be reached at His “X” account is JohnTures2.