LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A study ranks Arkansas dead last among states for LGBTQ+ equality in government policies and economic opportunity.

The annual Out Leadership’s 5th Annual State LGBTQ+ Business Climate Index found Arkansas fell to the bottom of the list for its equality ranking score of 32 out of 100. In 2022 the Natural State was ranked number 46 with a 35.93 ranking. 

In 2022, South Carolina was at the bottom of the list with a 22.63 score. For 2023, it was ranked one above Arkansas at 49 with a 32.5 score.

Out Leadership founder and CEO Todd Sears said a low ranking could impact how businesses view Arkansas.

“As greater numbers of multinational companies continue to shift away from U.S.-based operations, the business impact of this year’s index points to a harmful effect for the nation’s economy and job market,” Sears said. “Major corporate employers want to locate to places where they can recruit the best talent, without having to worry about state and local laws hindering their overall business success.”

Arkansas dropping in rank reflects a national trend, the index authors said, reflecting a regression in LGBTQ+ access and equality as political polarization grows. The authors pointed to “Don’t say gay” legislation, and the increase in laws impacting gender-affirming care. 

“The economic outlook of anti-equality states is being imperiled by politicians more interested in scoring political points than protecting the future livelihoods of citizens,” Sears said. 

The index authors said a state’s equality ranking measures how LGBTQ+ people experience living, working, building a family and building a life in each state. The index scoring used Out Leadership data, plus data from the Williams Institute and LGBTMAP organizations, which study public policy and gender issues. 

New York ranked highest in the 2023 index, with a 93.67 score, followed closely by Connecticut with a 93.27 score.