Huntington, Morgantown Earn Perfect Scores For LGBTQ Inclusivity, Non-Discrimination
The Human Rights Campaign has released its 2021 Municipal Equality Index. The index ranks cities on how inclusive they are.
The rankings are based on factors including nondiscrimination laws, municipal employment policies, inclusiveness of city services and law enforcement with regard to LGBTQ persons and municipal leadership on matters of equality.
The cities of Huntington and Morgantown have both achieved perfect scores for 2021.
Jack Jarvis from Fairness West Virginia presented the awards virtually, today.
“The index isn’t a perfect tool for measuring how inclusive our cities are,” he said. “But it's one important tool we have. It allows us to see how our cities stack up against cities across the country.”
Huntington received a perfect score for the third consecutive year. Morgantown also achieved a perfect score of 100 for the first time this year. The national average score is 67.
“It’s time for the world to know that West Virginia can be a welcoming place where all kinds of people belong,” said Andrew Schneider, executive director of Fairness West Virginia. “We’ve known for a long time these communities are welcoming, and today’s report card proves that. I congratulate the leaders of Morgantown for all of their hard work this year toward inclusivity. I look forward to more cities joining the ranks of these all-stars, and to leaders at the state level stepping up to protect all Mountaineers from discrimination.”
Morgantown’s score in the 2020 MEI was 77, meaning the city jumped 23 points in a single year. Part of Morgantown’s significant score increase was because members of city council there adopted a bill to ban so-called conversion therapy.
“The city of Morgantown is a welcoming place where everyone is valued,” said Morgantown Mayor Jenny Selin. “We’ve worked hard together as a community to advance policies that will ensure our LGBTQ residents can live free from discrimination, and we will continue this important work in the future. All of our children, including our LGBTQ children and their friends, deserve the chance to grow up in communities that support them. I’m proud that our city has earned full marks on the Municipal Equality Index this year.”
Other West Virginia cities listed in the report are Charleston, Wheeling Charles Town, Lewisburg and Parkersburg. Charleston was the only other city from West Virginia above the national average with a score of 94.
Parkersburg scored just 13 in the report.
Huntington, Morgantown and Charleston were also designated “All-Star” cities for scoring above 85 points despite being in a state without LGBTQ-inclusive statewide non-discrimination laws.
The City of Charleston adopted the state’s first conversion therapy ban in August. Caitlin Cook, a member of Charleston’s City Council, was the lead sponsor of that bill and is a member of the city’s LGBTQ Working Group.
“We became the first municipality in our state to ban the harmful practice of conversion therapy on minors and established an LGBTQ working group to continue advancing inclusive policies in the Capital City,” Cook said. “Looking forward, it is my hope we can continue to value and uplift LGBTQ voices in our community as well as improve our inclusivity score.”
Across the country, there are 74 cities in this category.
Leaders from Morgantown, Charleston and Huntington joined Fairness West Virginia to announce the scores and celebrate the improvements. Watch a recording of the virtual ceremony here.