Post submitted by Mitchell Scuzzarella, HRC Digital Media Intern

The Topeka City Council recently passed an ordinance to included sexual orientation and gender identity and expression in its public education to prevent discrimination against LGBT people in their city.

Topeka, Kansas, which is also known for being the home of the Westboro Baptist Church (WBC), is making the ordinance more than just a measure in ending LGBT discrimination, but also a way to send a message that the city is not defined by the hate-group. 

“There are good Christian folks here. It’s not just [Westboro’s] home, it is all of our homes,” openly bisexual City Councilman John Campos II told the Huffington Post

Campos stressed that while he hopes the ordinance does send a message to the world about Topeka and the WBC, its proposal was not based solely on their presence. 

While opponents were vocal about their displeasure with the measure, Councilman Chad Manspeaker noted that the Topeka Human Rights Commission, which educates the public on these issues, is an educational agency, not one of enforcement.

By proactively targeting anti-LGBT discrimination through education, Topeka is creating a more diverse and safe future for its children. Especially within public schools, early examples such as name-calling and teasing create unsafe environments for LGBT youth.

Every year HRC evaluates how municipal laws affect the LGBT community with its Municipal Equality Index. While Topeka received only 16 out of a possible 100 points in the 2012 MEI, their score may improve after the passing of this ordinance.

HRC’s Municipal Equality Index demonstrates the ways that many cities can – and do – serve the LGBT people who live and work in those cities. Read the Municipal Equality Index report here, and click here to see the detailed scorecards for the 137 cities the MEI rated in 2012.

For more information about the Municipal Equality Index, click here.  The next edition of the MEI will be released this Fall.

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