National debates on social issues not only influence legislation and public policy, but also influence the technology we use in our day-to-day lives. After joining the Human Rights Campaign’s amicus brief in support of trans student Gavin Grimm, Yelp launched a business attribute to help users identify businesses that offer gender-neutral restrooms in 2017. Then in response to the Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission case ruling, in July 2018 we introduced our “Open to All” attribute in partnership with the Movement Advancement Project. This attribute allows a business to distinguish itself as a safe and welcoming place to everyone, regardless of race, ethnicity, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, religion or disability.
In celebration of Pride Month, Yelp is releasing data mapping the rise of LGBTQ+ friendly businesses across the U.S., announcing the Top 20 Most Inclusive Cities, and introducing a free “LGBTQ+ Owned Business” decal.
To continue our support of the LGBTQ+ community during Pride and beyond, Yelp will offer free window decals for business owners who identify as LGBTQ+ to proudly display on their storefronts. To receive the “LGBTQ+ Owned Business” decal, simply fill out this form by Friday, June 21. The storefront stickers will be sent directly to businesses in the mail.
We’ll be hosting events throughout the month in celebration of Pride at Yelp offices across the country. In our San Francisco office, Yelp employees will learn from an LGBTQ+ business owner panel and enjoy a Pride Bazaar featuring local LGBTQ+ owned businesses selling their wares.
The Rise of Inclusivity on Yelp
Across the U.S., nearly 312,000 businesses have been listed as having gender-neutral restrooms or being “Open to All” on Yelp since March 2017 (some businesses have both attributes). At the end of May 2019, nearly 31,000 searches had been made using the “Gender-neutral restrooms” filter on Yelp. States with strong support for the LGBTQ+ community like California and Oregon have led the charge. However, in areas like North Carolina and Texas where gender-neutral restrooms have proven contentious, local businesses on the ground are still expressing their support despite legislative and cultural pushback.
In 2014, Gavin Grimm’s Virginia school district barred him from using the boys’ restroom. The ACLU picked up his case and helped defend Gavin in 2015, and in May 2018, a federal district court in Virginia ruled that transgender students were allowed to use the bathroom they most identified with.
Since Gavin’s journey, we’ve seen over 7,000 businesses in Virginia that have a gender-neutral restroom, have marked themselves as being “Open to All,” or both.
In 2016, North Carolina passed House Bill 2, which required transgender people to use restrooms that corresponded to their sex at birth in many public buildings.
The law resulted in significant economic loss for North Carolina, amongst other negative impacts, and was repealed in March 2017. That same month, Yelp introduced its gender-neutral restroom feature, and today 5,923 North Carolina businesses have the attribute or have marked themselves as “Open to All.”
Texas has a long legislative history of fighting gender-neutral restrooms. Most recently, a bill was approved by the Texas Senate in July 2017 that aimed to “restrict bathroom access for transgender people” and “overturn local ordinances affirming transgender bathroom rights in such cities as Austin, San Antonio and Dallas.”
In Texas, and in those cities in particular, communities have shown their disagreement with the proposed law through their Yelp pages. 20,461 business in Texas have had the gender-neutral restroom attribute added or marked themselves as “Open to All” since March 2017.
In May 2012, same-sex couple Charlie Craig and David Mullins were refused service when they tried to order a wedding cake at Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, CO, a suburb of Denver. Their case made it to the Supreme Court, and on June 4, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the baker who refused to make a wedding cake for the couple.
In Colorado, communities have shown their support for more inclusive businesses through their Yelp pages. 6,501 business in Colorado, the majority of which are in the Denver area, have had the gender-neutral restroom attribute added or marked themselves as “Open to All” since March 2017.
So what are the most inclusive cities in the U.S.?
Using data from Yelp’s gender-neutral restroom and “Open to All” attributes, we identified the Top 20 Most Inclusive Cities. San Francisco, Los Angeles and Portland took home the top three spots. You can check out the full list here.