Lawrence receives perfect score on index that measures LGBTQ-inclusiveness in local government
photo by: Journal-World File Photo
After receiving bonus points in some categories, the City of Lawrence has received a perfect score on an index that measures how inclusive municipal laws, policies and services are for LGBTQ+ people.
The Human Rights Campaign’s annual Municipal Equality Index is a national benchmarking tool designed to inform municipal officials, policy makers and business leaders on how well cities across the nation embody LGBTQ+ inclusion in their laws, policies and services, according to a city news release. The City of Lawrence has made history by earning a score of 100 points. This year is the first in the history of the Human Rights Campaign where a city in Kansas earned a perfect score. The City of Wichita also received a score of 100.
The Human Rights Campaign is a national education and advocacy organization working to achieve equality for LGBTQ+ people. Since 2012, the HRC has issued the annual Municipal Equality Index, ranking cities on a scale from zero to 100 based on criteria covering nondiscrimination laws, the municipality as an employer, municipal services, law enforcement and leadership on LGBTQ+ equality.
Since 2013, HRC has acknowledged Lawrence as a top city in Kansas pertaining to LGBTQ+ equity and inclusion. Lawrence earned 100% of the standard points available in the following four categories: nondiscrimination laws, municipality as an employer, municipal services and leadership on LGBTQ+ equality. The city lost 12 points in the law enforcement subcategory of reporting hate crime statistics to the FBI. The city has lost those points in past reviews, and city officials said at that time that the city does track hate crime statistics but that the Lawrence Police Department’s software is not compatible with the FBI’s and the city must submit that information on paper. The city received bonus/flex points for the following:
• Protection of Youth from Conversion Therapy
• City Employee Domestic Partner benefits
• Youth Bullying Prevention Policy for City Services
• Services to LGBTQ+ Youth
• Services to LGBTQ+ Older Adults
• Services to People Living with HIV or AIDS
• Services to the Transgender Community
• Openly LGBTQ+ Elected or Appointed Leaders
In 2022, HRC ranked 506 cities with a national average of 69 points per municipality. For cities in Kansas, Lawrence is tied with Wichita for the highest ranking. The 2022 scores for cities in Kansas are below:
• Lawrence – 100
• Wichita – 100
• Overland Park – 92
• Topeka – 87
• Manhattan – 81
• Olathe – 71
• Emporia – 63
• Kansas City – 63
• Hutchinson – 61
The index, which is done in partnership with the Equality Federation Institute, rated 506 cities. That includes the 50 state capitals, the 200 largest cities in the United States, the five largest cities or municipalities in each state, the cities home to the state’s two largest public universities, 25 large cities that have high proportions of same-sex couples, and 98 cities selected by the HRC and Equality Federation state group members and supporters.
The city’s full report, including detailed scorecards for every city, as well as a searchable database, is available on the Human Rights’ Campaign’s website, hrc.org.