MI receives a D grade on how welcoming the state is for LGBTQ+ people

Aug 14, 2019

LGBTQ Flag being held by a person towards the sky
Credit REUTERS/TYRONE SIU

The state of Michigan has received a score of 64.7 percent according to a new report from Out Leadership—a global business network advocating on behalf of LGBTQ+ inclusive spaces in the workplace.  Here is Todd Sears, founder of the organization, explaining why Michigan received a low score. 

“There is no ban on conversion therapy in Michigan for example, HIV criminalization is legal, and the opportunity for trans people to change their birth markers is not available unless they have surgery.” 

The report score is based on 5 broad categories assessing LGBTQ+ people’s lived experiences.  These categories are legal and nondiscrimination protections, youth and family support, political and religious attitudes, health access and safety, and work environment and employment. 

“And rated each of the states across those on a 5 point scale, and then we were able to rank those states and in the CEO briefs that we built for the states and we’ve launched a portion of the fifty and we will launch the rest this fall then give much more detail in terms of how those businesses and leaders are doing business in those states whether Tennessee, or Texas, or Arizona or Michigan can then use this brief and this scoring system to make the case to local governing officials, to governors and to legislators that LGBT inclusion would improve business outcomes in the state.” 

Michigan scored well when it came to political and religious attitudes, but low on health access and safety.

“Political and religious attitudes, interestingly, Michigan has 19.2 out of 20, where they fall down the most is around health access and safety is 6.5 out of 20 and that primarily deals with HIV criminalization. On legal and nondiscrimination protections Michigan scores 14 out of 20 possible points, youth and family support 13 out of 20.” 

Sears says that its not just about safety for LGBTQ people, but it is also about how comfortable they are when telling their coworkers, or supervisors of their sexual orientation or gender identity. If they aren’t able to be out at work Sears explains they are less likely to be attracted to that kind of workplace.

“And so if you think about the economic cost of that and you multiply it across an entire state like Michigan…it is absolutely significant.”

Michigan resident, Eleanor Moreno, says although the report accurately describes the experience of an LGBTQ person living in Grand Rapids, it is important to consider what that experience is for an LGBTQ person of color. 

“How many of us, people of color, leaders, queer people of color who are leaders in this community and we are still not in rooms that we need to be in or get invited. That’s like everyday, and that really sucks.”

At the very baseline says Sears people of color in the United States experience great levels of oppression but when you add being LGBTQ – it adds another layer to their experience. 

“And if you add the LGBTQ layer from an intersectionality perspective it can be significantly worst.”

And although across the state of Michigan there is no legislation specifically protects LGBTQ people – a bill was introduced in June to amend the Elliot Larsen Civil Rights Acts to protect LGBTQ people from employment discrimination. 

Michelle Jokisch Polo, WGVU News.