North Carolina and Mississippi are engulfed in controversy after Republicans enacted laws curtailing the rights of transgender Americans and homosexuals.
North Carolina’s House Bill 2 declared multi-person bathrooms in public schools, public colleges, and government buildings must be designated for use by biological gender only, not gender identity. Transgender North Carolinians will therefore be required to use bathrooms based on the gender listed on their birth certificate.
In Mississippi, House Bill 1523 stated people with religious or moral beliefs that include the notion marriage and sexual relations should be exclusively between a man and a woman can refuse service to homosexuals planning a wedding ceremony. Religious organizations can refuse to marry gay couples, sell or rent to homosexuals, or provide therapy, treatment, or surgery related to gender change or gay couples’ counseling. Foster and adoptive services can likewise turn gays away without fear of legal action.
North Carolina’s bill also banned cities and counties from passing or enforcing local anti-discrimination laws. Two other states, Tennessee and Arkansas, have similar statutes.
The creators characterized the bills as means to protect privacy and religious beliefs (the name of the Mississippi bill implied requiring businesses to provide service to homosexuals would be “government discrimination”), but enraged civil rights advocates, who believe discrimination in private and public spaces based on sexual orientation or identity cannot be tolerated in a free society. Many groups are working to reverse the decisions.
Mississippi and North Carolina are among 28 states, mostly in the Midwest and South, that do not ban private businesses from firing or refusing to hire someone because he or she is gay or transgender. Two states (outside these 28) protect homosexuals but not transgender people. 52% of LGBT people live in a state without either protection. Race, nation of origin, gender, religion, and other characteristics are protected.
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission rules created by the federal government offer protections to government and public sector employees in these states, but they extend no farther.
You can see which states protect gay employees from discrimination here.