When it comes to creating an inclusive community for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, the City of Huntington ranks higher than many cities in West Virginia and across the country, according to a new report from the nation’s largest LGBTQ civil rights organization.
The Human Rights Campaign on Thursday, Oct. 19, released its 2017 Municipal Equality Index, which ranked 506 U.S. cities of varying sizes on several factors, including nondiscrimination laws, municipal employment policies, inclusiveness of city services, law enforcement with regard to LGBTQ persons and municipal leadership on matters of equality.
Huntington received a score of 95 on a 100-point scale, which is in the top percentile of cities that were evaluated. Only 68 cities received a perfect score. The nationwide average was 57.
Charleston (67), Wheeling (63), Charles Town (50), Lewisburg (49), Morgantown (48), and Parkersburg (20) were also included in the report.
Huntington was also one of only 41 “All-Star” cities in states lacking comprehensive nondiscrimination laws protecting LGBTQ people that scored above 85 points.
Huntington improved its score of 85 in last year’s report because of advancements in nondiscrimination in city employment policies, mandating diversity training every two years for all city employees and having openly LGBTQ-appointed municipal leaders.
“A year later, our expectations are even more resolute. We expect to be known as a city of honor, respect and compassion,” Mayor Steve Williams said. “And while I am pleased to know that we have made strides to become more inclusive in Huntington, our work is not done. We are organizing our community so that every person has a distinct and vested responsibility to advance our city’s prosperity.
“Our vision is that we embrace our diversity and actively seek inclusiveness as we learn to stand as one people celebrating our differences. We will be able to shape our future by assuring every person in our city has a seat at the table and has a voice to be heard.”
The city’s labor liaison, Teresa Ball, continues to work with the Mayor’s LGBTQ Advisory Committee, which was formed in 2015, on a number of initiatives to advance inclusiveness in Huntington, Mayor Williams said.
The full report, including detailed scorecards for every city and a searchable database, is available online at www.hrc.org/mei.
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