For the second year in a row, Louisville has earned 100 points in the Human Rights Commission’s Municipal Equality Index Scorecard. It is one of only 60 cities of 508 ranked to earn that score; last year it was one of only 49. No other city in Kentucky comes close. Lexington earned a 71. Bowling Green was among the lowest in the country at 17.
The MEI measures the ways cities support or fail to support the LGBTQ people who live and work there.
As recent as 2014, Louisville only scored a 66. That was before marriage equality was recognized nationally; it was not recognized by the commonwealth. The city also earned poor scores as an employer and for the services and programs offered to LGBTQ citizens.
Even with the 2016 perfect score, the state as a whole scored a 52, under the national average of 55.
This year, Louisville lost points for failing to have transgender-inclusive health care benefits for city employees.
It also lost points for not having “enumerated anti-bullying school policies.” In August 2015, JCPS added a new policy that “includes gender identity, along with sexual orientation, as a protected category in the school system’s nondiscrimination policy,” according to the national education organization GLSEN. However, every single state- or city-funded school has to have an explicit policy, and the Kentucky School for the Blind does not, according to Chris Hartman, director of the Fairness Campaign.
“So it’s a bit of a technicality” that the city lost those points, he said.
Unlike 2015, this year the city actually earned bonus points for going above and beyond in the services and programs offered to the LGBTQ community, including programs for LGBTQ elderly, homeless, youth and people living with AIDS.
Bowling Green and Owensboro, which score a 19, are the two largest cities in the commonwealth that have no Fairness Act.
The HRC has a detailed breakdown of Louisville’s scorecard. The MEI rates cities based on 44 criteria.
“We should feel good,” Hartman said, “But there’s always more we can do.”