Being a couple comes with its own set of challenges. You have to figure out your finances, how you plan to share responsibilities, and most importantly, you need to decide on a family-friendly place to settle down. Moving to a new place is already hectic and stressful, but have you ever realized that this task might be a little bit extra difficult for some people?
Unfortunately, the people from the LGBTQIA+ community have always felt unwelcomed in certain neighborhoods or even in certain states. Couples belonging to this community have to take into consideration several things before they decide to move to a new place. Fortunately, about 63% of the American population supports LGBTQIA+ now, as opposed to only 44% in 2010. If you belong to this community, certainly go through the following list of the best and the worst states to start a beautiful family.
What Exactly is the LGBTQIA+ Community?
There are two types of people namely the ones whose gender identity and sexual orientation match with each other (cisgender) and the ones whose gender identity and sexual orientation differ from one another. The latter group of people generally belong to the LGBTQIA+ community.
LGBTQIA+ is in fact an acronym for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual. The + sign indicates that some additional members are included in the community; however, they haven’t been mentioned in the acronym.
Things to Consider While Moving to a New State
When you move to a new state to start a family, you generally consider things like the cost of living, home prices, job and education opportunities, the extent of urbanization, etc. However, being a member of the LGBTQIA+ community means that you have to be extra vigilant about the laws of the state (concerning same-sex marriages) and the attitudes of the people of a state towards the community. Here are some of the things to look out for when you move to a new state.
1. Anti-Discrimination Laws
The state you are moving to must have some anti-discrimination laws in place to protect the LGBTQIA+ community which is already in a very vulnerable space. These laws protect the community against people who treat them differently due to their biases about the community. To add to that, such laws also prevent the occurrence of discrimination in the following five categories:
- Employment (covers people employed in the private sector)
- Public Accommodations
- Public Employment (covers people employed in the public sector)
You will notice that while some states have anti-discrimination laws that cover all or a few of these categories, while some other states do not offer any legal protection to the community.
2. Hate Crimes
Hate Crime Laws are essentially used to prosecute those who commit crimes against a particular person/community (LGBTQIA+ in this case) due to their own set of biases. However, the accepted definition of bias differs from state to state. Some states include gender identity and sexual orientation in their definition of bias, on the other hand, some states do not consider a crime committed against this community as a hate crime.
3. Conversion Therapy Laws for Minors
It will come as good news to you that some states strictly ban mental health practitioners from offering conversion therapy to minors so that they can try to change the minor’s gender identity or sexual orientation. Although a lot of states don’t have such laws in place, individual cities within some states certainly stand by the ban and implement such laws.
4. Adoption Laws
Sadly, some states do not support LGBTQIA+ marriages because of which life becomes difficult for the members of the said community. Some states also do not allow a couple belonging to this community to adopt. Thankfully, a majority of the states allow individual members of the community to adopt; but, laws regarding adopting jointly tend to vary.
5. LGBTQIA+ Population Density
A place that has a high number of members of this community residing in it translates to the state being welcoming to these members. A population density generally suggests that the state has some good laws in place and the attitude of the residents of the state towards the community is warm and welcoming.
6. Miscellaneous Things
Apart from laws and population density, some other factors also have to be considered. For instance, the number of same-sex couples, pride centers, positive laws, and businesses that do not discriminate against the community members, etc., helps you gauge the social climate of the state.
Best States To Start an LGBTQIA+ Family
The golden state shines brightly when it comes to being supportive and helpful to the LGBTQIA community. The best part about them is their hate crime laws cover biases against sexual orientation as well as a gender identity for prosecution. Their anti-discrimination laws that cover all the categories except the category of credit ensure that each and every individual is treated equally irrespective of their gender identity and sexual orientation.
If you really want to start a family then settling in California is a super smart move. This is because the adoption laws of the state allow same-sex couples to adopt a child jointly. The state also ensures that minors are not subjected to conversion therapy. What more do you want?
Median Home Price: $635,055
Median Rent: $1,436
Best Cities for LGBTQIA+ Families: San Francisco, Los Angeles, Pasadena, Long Beach, Oakland, San Diego, San Jose.
Reasons to Move to California
- More than 1.5 million people that identify as a member of this community reside in California. This means that they account for 5.3% of the population of the state.
- The Golden State is home to 98,153 same-sex couples out of which, 24% of the couples are raising children.
- California has maintained a whopping 21 Pride Centers for the members of this community.
- Human Rights Campaign listed 81 business from California in their ‘Best Place to Work in 2018’ list
- California is one of the 8 states that has passed laws that bans the use of LGBTQ panic defense.
Illinois is the perfect place to start a family because its adoption laws are very inclusive. These laws ensure that same-sex couples can adopt a child easily. The state has strictly banned the practice of conversion therapy on minors.
To add to that, the state has ensured that its anti-discrimination laws cover all the five categories that have been mentioned before. Members of the LGBTQIA+ community can thus rest assured that they will be treated equally by everyone at all places. Not only this, but the hate crime laws cover both sexual orientation and gender identity which ensures your safety if you belong to this community.
Median Home Price: $223,455
Median Rent: $1,853
Best Cities for LGBTQIA+ Families: Boystown, Andersonville, Evanston, Chicago, Aurora, Joliet.
Reasons to Move to Illinois
- Illinois has about 506,000 people that identify as members of this community which accounts for 4.3% of its population.
- There are 5 Pride Centers located in Illinois.
- More than 23k same-sex couples are living in Illinois out of which 28% are raising children.
- Human Rights Campaign listed 48 business from California in their ‘Best Place to Work in 2018’ list.
- Illinois is also one of the only 8 states that have banned the use of LGBTQ panic defense.
- The schools of Illinois are required to teach the history of the community and the significant contributions made by the members of the community.
- Illinois is one of the only 3 states that legally requires all single-occupancy public restrooms to be recognized as gender-neutral restrooms.
Not only is it known for its beautiful weather and picturesque beaches, but it is also one of the best places for the members of the LGBTQIA+ community to start a family. It is one of the safest places for them as it has implemented strict laws for the prosecution of the perpetrators of hate crimes.
If this wasn’t enough, Hawaii’s anti-discrimination laws make sure that you are treated equally everywhere. The only thing to consider here is that these laws don’t cover the credit category. The state obviously condemns and bans conversion therapy for minors. You can dream of starting a beautiful family here as the state allows same-sex couples to go through adoptions jointly.
Median Home Price: $689,945
Median Rent: $1725
Best Cities for LGBTQIA+ Families: Honolulu, Hilo, Manoa, Mililani, Lahaina, Lihue, Waikiki.
Reason to Move to Hawaii
- Hawaii has 59,000 residents who identify with the LGBTQIA+ community and these people account for 4.6% of its population.
- There is one pride center located in Hawaii.
- More than 3,000 same-sex couples are residing here out of which 30% of the couples are raising children.
- Hawaii considers LGBTQ panic defense illegal.
Also See: Moving To Hawaii – Relocation Guide
4. Other States to Consider
Other than the 3 states mentioned, there are some other states that will provide the LGBTQ community with a positive and beautiful family living experience. These states have great laws that safeguard the interest of the members of the community. Similarly, strict measures are taken against those who try to discriminate against them and cause them any sort of harm.
To add to that, the adoption laws of these states ensure that same-sex couples can adopt jointly and start a wonderful family. Many of these states have high LGBTQIA+ population density, multiple pride centers, and great employment opportunities. Let us tell you which states (along with the cities within them) fall under this category.
- Vermont: Burlington, Brattleboro, Stowe
- Nevada: Reno, Stateline, Las Vegas
- Maryland: Baltimore, College Park, Towson
- Connecticut: West Hartford, New Haven, South Norwalk
- Oregon: Portland, Eugene, Lincoln City
- New Mexico: Santa Fe, Edgewood, Roswell
- Delaware: Wilmington, New Castle, Newark
Worst States to Start an LGBTQIA+ Family
1. South Dakota
If you belong to the LGBTQIA+ community and think that moving to South Dakota seems to be a good decision, you couldn’t be more wrong. Moving to South Dakota for its picturesque landscape is one thing, but moving here doesn’t make sense when your rights aren’t going to be respected.
South Dakota does not guarantee equality to the community as its anti-discrimination laws do not cover the LGBTQIA+ community. This means that people can discriminate against you because of their biases and no one will bat so much as an eyelid. Similarly, hate crime laws here do not protect the LGBTQ community.
Sadly, minors residing in the state can be subjected to conversion therapy as it isn’t banned here. Their adoption laws make it almost impossible to go ahead with a second-child adoption. On top of that, schools are not allowed to teach kids (age 12 and below) about the LBTQIA+ community.
- Median Home Price: $230,530
- Median Rent: $1,175
- LGBTQIA+ friendly cities: Brookings, Rapid City, Sioux Falls, Marty, Brandon, Vermillion, Pierre
Things to Consider While Moving to South Dakota
- The population of the LGBTQIA+ community residing in this state is less than 25,000 which is very less.
- Only 3% of their workforce identifies as a member of this community.
- To look at the brighter side, the people who support this community have managed to persuade the legislators to reject a bill that would have disallowed doctors from offering gender confirmation tests and puberty blockers.
Inhospitable attitudes and climate for the LGBTQIA+ people in this state are reflected through the low population of the members of this community. About 18,000 members are living in the state currently which accounts for only 3.3% of its population.
Wyoming’s anti-discrimination laws do not cover gender identity and sexual orientation which results in members of the community being vulnerable to discrimination. The members of the LGBTQIA+ community residing in Wyoming are also susceptible to hate crimes. Their hate crime laws don’t protect the members of this community.
To add to that, minors in most of the regions in Wyoming are still subjected to conversion therapy. This causes a lot of harm to their mental health.
Median Home Price: $263,166
Median Rent: $1,015
LGBTQIA+ friendly cities: Jackson, Laramie, Lander, Casper, Cody, Cheyenne, Mills.
Things to Consider While Moving to Wyoming
- Same-sex marriage is legal in Wyoming since 2014.
- The adoption laws of Wyoming allow same-sex couples to adopt a child jointly.
- It is a well-known fact that people belonging to the LGBTQIA+ community in Wyoming experience a lot of economic instability.
- There have been many heinous instances and popular cases of hate crimes committed against the members of this community.
3. North Dakota
North Dakota isn’t a great place to move to if you belong to the LGBTQ community and want to start a family. Not only are you vulnerable to discrimination, but adoption laws of the state are also very restrictive.
The hate crime laws in North Dakota don’t cover gender identity and sexual orientation because of which prosecution of perpetrators of hate crimes (against LGBTQ members) rarely occurs. Similarly, their anti-discrimination laws do not protect the members of the community against discrimination. Anyone can openly discriminate against the members of the community without having to face any consequences.
Not only this, but the adoption laws of the state make it difficult for same-sex couples to start a family. There are many restrictions when these couples want to go for second child adoption. The state also considers it legal for minors to be subjected to conversion therapy.
Median Home Price: $240,841
Median Rent: $1,250
LGBTQIA+ friendly cities: Fargo, Mandan, Grand Forks, Bismarck, Beulah, Watford City, Wahpeton, Valley City.
Things to Consider While Moving To North Dakota
- The state has one of the lowest populations of the members of the LGBTQIA+ community. There are less than 20,000 people residing here that belong to the community. This accounts for only 2.7% of the population.
- Because of the restrictive adoption laws, only 10% of same-sex couples are raising children.
- Only 3% of its workforce is made of the members belonging to this community. These members face a lot of inequalities at the workplace.
Also Read: Moving To North Dakota – Relocation Guide
4. Other States that aren’t so Great
Apart from these 3 states, there are some more states that don’t have a favorable social climate for the members of the LGBTQIA+ community. Many of these states do not protect these people against discrimination as their anti-discrimination laws do not cover gender identity and sexual orientation.
Similarly, there have been instances of hate crimes being committed against the members of this community as these laws don’t cover gender identity and sexual orientation. Starting a family in these states becomes super difficult especially because same-sex couples aren’t able to adopt a child. Many minors are also subjected to conversion therapy as it isn’t illegal in these states.
Want to know which states we are talking about? The following states are the ones that aren’t really hospitable to the members of the community. However, there are some cities (mentioned below) within these states that are safe and are actively fighting for the rights of the members of this community.
● Alabama: Montgomery, Birmingham, Mobile
● Montana: Missoula, Bozeman, Helena
● Idaho: Boise, Coeur d’Alene, Moscow
● South Carolina: Columbia, Charleston, Myrtle Beach
● Tennessee: Nashville, Knoxville, Memphis
● Oklahoma: Tula, Oklahoma City
● Mississippi: Jackson, Hattiesburg, Oxford
If you are a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, it is natural for you to be worried and stressed about finding a good state to move to. You are obviously concerned about your well-being. But don’t worry! There are plenty of states out there that are very supportive of the community. All you have to do is read up a little bit on the state you want to move to, and make your decisions accordingly. Happy Moving!