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 Monday released its 2018 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 nationwide and, for the third consecutive year, is the highest score among cities that were evaluated in West Virginia. Only 78 cities received a perfect score. The nationwide average was 58.
Charleston (64), Wheeling (57), Charles Town (45), Lewisburg (43), Morgantown (80), and Parkersburg (13) were also included in the report.
Huntington also for the second consecutive year was designated as an “All-Star” city for scoring above 85 points despite hailing from a state without LGBTQ-inclusive statewide non-discrimination laws. Across the country, 46 cities like these set a standard of LGBTQ inclusiveness with exemplary, best-practice policies such as local non-discrimination laws, providing transgender-inclusive health benefits for city employees and offering LGBTQ-inclusive city services.
“Huntington is becoming 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 https://www.hrc.org/mei.
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