MARYLAND (WDVM) — The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) released their 2020 Municipal Equity Index, which rates cities across the country out of 100 in terms of LGBTQ equality-based on local and state policies, laws, and services. 506 cities were studied nationwide, with 10 in Maryland.
Maryland’s average score across all 10 cities was 89, which was higher than the national average of 64. Xavier Persad, senior legislative counsel at the Human Rights Campaign, said that each year has seen increasing percentages, and this year’s increase was greater than before.
“In the context of the ongoing pandemic COVID-19 and widespread racial injustice, we are happy to see local leaders leading the way,” Persad said.
Five of Maryland’s cities received scores of 100, including Rockville and Frederick. All of Maryland’s studied cities received the following scores:
- Annapolis – 84
- Baltimore – 100
- Bowie – 60
- College Park – 100
- Columbia – 100
- Frederick – 100
- Gaithersburg – 93
- Hagerstown – 68
- Rockville – 100
- Towson – 86
Maryland also has statewide protections in place for LGBTQ individuals, which Persad said contributed to each city’s ratings.
“What we’re looking at here is whether the city has expressly inclusive non-discrimination protections for city employees,” he said. “Things that cities in Maryland can do above and beyond (state-wide protections) to increase their scores… is making sure that city services are provided to or supportive for vulnerable members of the LGBTQ community.”
Several cities, including Frederick and Rockville, also have appointed LGBTQ liaisons to help communicate about the community’s needs to local governments. Rockville and Frederick both have non-discrimination ordinances and equal opportunity policies among other benefits that contributed to their scores of 100.
Persad said one issue that contributed to Hagerstown’s lower score was a lack of reporting on hate crime statistics to federal officials.
“It’s important for the government to know where the problem areas lie and how we can equitably distribute resources to try and address those issues,” he said.
More information can be found on the HRC’s website.
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