by Jared Todd •
In eleventh edition of Municipal Equality Index, a record-setting number of perfect 100 point scores and the highest-ever national average show localities leading the way on LGBTQ+ inclusion
Index Released As HRC Tracks More than 345 Pieces of Anti-LGBTQ+ Legislation in States Across the Country
WASHINGTON — Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation, the educational arm of the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization, in partnership with The Equality Federation Institute, released its 11th annual Municipal Equality Index (MEI), the only nationwide assessment of LGBTQ+ equality in the areas of municipal policies, laws and services. This year, a record-breaking 120 cities earned the highest score of 100, up from 11 in 2012’s inaugural index, the MEI’s inaugural year, illustrating the striking advancements municipalities have made despite some being in states that have seen increased extremist-led anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric and legislation.
This year alone, HRC tracked more than 345 pieces of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation introduced in state houses across the nation, more than 145 of which specifically target transgender and gender non-conforming individuals. While some extremist state legislators seek to abolish fundamental human rights, city leaders and officials have stepped up to protect the rights of LGBTQ+ communities.
In 20 states across the country, 80 cities earned over 85 points, despite their state lacking non-discrimination statutes that explicitly protect sexual orientation and gender identity – an increase from 74 municipalities in 2021 and up from just five in 2012. These municipalities set a standard of LGBTQ+ inclusion by prioritizing measures such as enacting comprehensive non-discrimination laws, providing transgender-inclusive health benefits for city employees, and providing services for particularly vulnerable members of the LGBTQ+ community.
The report also contains issue briefs for policymakers that covers how cities can support transgender individuals with healthcare protections, as well as an issue brief that highlights the reality that abortion rights also affects the LGBTQ+ community and that city governments do have the power to implement LGBTQ+ inclusive abortion rights.
Other significant findings from the 2022 MEI include:
The national city score average jumped to an all-time high of 68 points, up from 67 points last year, marking the fifth consecutive year of national average increases.
This year, 187 cities have transgender-inclusive healthcare benefits for municipal employees—up from 181 in 2021.
41 municipalities have anti-conversion therapy ordinances in states with no state-level protections.
Great Lakes - 83 (up from 82 last year)
Mid-Atlantic - 82 (up from 80 last year)
West - 77 (same as last year)
New England - 69 (same as last year)
Plains - 64 (up from 63 last year)
Southeast - 55 (up from 52 last year)
Mountain - 55 (up from 53 last year)
Southwest - 54 (up from 51 last year)
The MEI rated 506 cities including the 50 state capitals, the 200 largest cities in the U.S., the five largest cities or municipalities in each state, the cities home to the state’s two largest public universities, the 75 municipalities that have high proportions of same-sex couples and 98 cities selected by HRC and Equality Federation state group members and supporters. It assesses each city on 49 criteria covering citywide non-discrimination protections, policies for municipal employees, city services, law enforcement and the city’s leadership on LGBTQ+ equality.
Even though local leaders continue to pave the way forward on equality, there remains an unacceptable patchwork of laws for LGBTQ+ people across the country. This reinforces the need for the federal Equality Act that would provide consistent and explicit non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ+ people across key areas of life, including employment, housing, credit, education, public spaces and services, federally funded programs, and jury service.
The full report, including detailed scorecards for every city, as well as a searchable database, is available online at https://reports.hrc.org/municipal-equality-index-2022.
The Human Rights Campaign Foundation is the educational arm of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) people. Through its programs, the HRC Foundation seeks to make transformational change in the everyday lives of LGBTQ+ people, shedding light on inequity and deepening the public’s understanding of LGBTQ+ issues, with a clear focus on advancing transgender and racial justice. Its work has transformed the landscape for more than 15 million workers, 11 million students, 1 million clients in the adoption and foster care system and so much more. The HRC Foundation provides direct consultation and technical assistance to institutions and communities, driving the advancement of inclusive policies and practices; it builds the capacity of future leaders and allies through fellowship and training programs; and, with the firm belief that we are stronger working together, it forges partnerships with advocates in the U.S. and around the globe to increase our impact and shape the future of our work.
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