Earlier this week the Human Rights Campaign released its annual Municipal Equality Index (MEI), a report that shines a light on the best American cities in terms of LGBTQ support — and the worst.
The report offers a truly in-depth look at LGBTQ rights and local laws in more than 500 cities across the United States, including all 50 state capitols, the 200 largest cities in the country, the five largest cities in each state and 75 cities with high proportions of gay couples (plus several more).
Cities are ranked on a scale of 0–100 in terms of its laws, policies, benefits and services. After a city’s score was tabulated, it was sent to the city for feedback before publication.
It’s important to realize the list is not a ranking of the best American cities for LGBTQ people to live in necessarily, as the score isn’t measuring quality of life. The MEI is strictly an evaluation of cities’ laws, policies and inclusiveness for LGBTQ people. Among some of this year’s new criteria were protections against conversion therapy, all-gender bathroom facilities and policies dedicated to bullying prevention.
This year the MEI saw 78 cities earn a perfect score of 100, an all-time record, up from 68 last year. HRC also uncovered 15 cities with a score of zero. Also for the first time ever, a city in America’s Deep South — Birmingham, Alabama — achieved a perfect score, proving that a city need not be in a state with “good laws” to get a great score.
Here are 15 of the best American cities for LGBTQ people (with a score of 100):
West Hollywood, California
St. Louis, Missouri
The 15 American cities that scored a 0 on the Municipal Equality Index:
North Druid Hills, Georgia
Lake Charles, Louisiana
Cape Girardeau, Missouri
Great Falls, Montana
Cary, North Carolina
Moore and Stillwater, Oklahoma
Clemson, South Carolina
Pierre, South Dakota
Rock Springs and Sheridan, Wyoming
Check out HRC’s evaluation of the best American cities for LGBTQ people in full here.
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