Human Rights Campaign releases Municipal Equality Index, giving Charlottesville 79/100 points

Published: Nov. 30, 2022 at 10:41 PM EST
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) released its 2022 Municipal Equality Index (MEI) on Wednesday. It rates more than 500 cities on how inclusive they are when it comes to the LGBTQ community. It looks at a number of criteria, including how inclusive workplaces are, if there are ordinances to protect LGBTQ employees, and if LGBTQ rights are represented in local policies.

Out of the eleven municipalities in Virginia that the MEI rated, Charlottesville ranked second to last, receiving 79 out of 100 points.

“Charlottesville definitely has some areas in which you can make improvements. Much of this is around the city services that they’re providing,” HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow said.

She has a few pieces of advice for Charlottesville. One is appointing someone as a go-between for police and the LGBTQ community.

“It will be wonderful to see Charlottesville really providing more services to LGBTQ youth, LGBTQ older Americans, and people who are living with HIV and AIDS. There’s also an opportunity for the city to appoint liaisons, both to the mayor’s office as well as to the police department.” said Warbelow.

“The other really important thing that Charlottesville could and should be doing is offering inclusive health care benefits to their transgender employees, and creating an ordinance that allows single user restrooms,” Warbelow added.

She says single-use restrooms are helpful for not only LGBTQ people, but also parents of young children and the elderly.

Although Charlottesville might have the second lowest ranking, Warbelow says it has made improvements alongside many other cities.

“Most of the cities in Virginia have improved quite significantly, and part of that is because of the passage of the 2020 Virginia Values Act, which created non-discrimination protections at the state level,” Warbelow said.

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