Eight US cities scored zero out of 100 in 10th edition Municipal equality index, which rates cities and towns based on the level of LGBTQ inclusion found in their local laws, policies and services.
LGBTQ advocacy groups Human rights campaign and Federation for equality assessed 506 municipalities, including the country’s 50 state capitals and the 200 largest cities, against 49 index criteria. The criteria included protections against discrimination, policies for municipal employees and city leaders.
This year’s zero point earners stretch from South Carolina to Wyoming, and they all hit zero on last year’s index as well. But on the other hand, 22% of cities got a perfect score, up from 8% in 2012, the report’s inaugural year.
“If you score a zero, it’s because you made that choice. There are certainly easy ways out of this zero place, ”said Cathryn Oakley, founding author of the Index and state legislative director for the Human Rights Campaign. “It is a statement from their side on how they are prepared to engage in these issues.”
Here are the eight cities that scored failing on this year’s Municipal Equality Index:
Located in the northwest corner of Alabama, Florence sits on the Tennessee River, has a about 40,000 inhabitants and is home to the University of Northern Alabama. The city made headlines in 2017, when several members of white nationalist groups, some dressed in Ku Klux Klan robes, organized a demonstration at the first Northwest Alabama Pride Parade.
Jonesboro, with a population of nearly 80,000, is the fifth largest city in Arkansas. It sits in the northeastern part of the state and is home to Arkansas State University. Earlier this year, a Pride Month book exhibit – which included the children’s book “The GayBCs” – sparked a backlash in a public library in the city, the Jonesboro Sun reported.
Southaven sits on the border of Mississippi and its northern neighbor, Tennessee, and is just 13 miles from Memphis. The city, which has about 55,000 inhabitants, made the news in 2019 after a same-sex couple said they were kicked out of a local Baptist church because the women did not want to end their “forbidden” marriage and “repent”.
Broken arrow, Oklahoma
Located just outside of Tulsa in the northeastern part of the state, Broken Arrow is the fourth largest city in Oklahoma, with a population of around 113,000. Oklahoma is the only state to have two cities that score zero points on this year’s Municipal Equality Index.
Moore, a town of about 63,000 inhabitants, is part of the Oklahoma City metropolitan area, which is located in the middle of the state. Moore made national news in 2017 after Ralph Shortey, a “family values” Republican who had served in the Oklahoma Senate, was found with a 17-year-old man at a local motel (Shortey was ultimately sentenced to 15 years in prison on charges of child sex trafficking).
Clemson, South Carolina
Home to Clemson University, this small town in South Carolina, with a population of 17,700, is found in the northwestern part of the state, near the Georgia and North Carolina borders. While the town of Clemson scored zero out of 100 on this year’s Municipal Equality Index, the university scored 3 out of 5 on the LGBTQ nonprofit. Campus Pride Annual Index. The university also opened Place Lavender, a LGBTQ “living-learning community” in August.
Pierre, South Dakota
With a population of about 14,100, Pierre is the second least populated state capital in the country, after Montpellier, in Vermont. Home to the state legislature, the city hosts many state events regarding LGBTQ issues. In January, Pierre made national headlines when a group of LGBTQ advocates protested against a bill prohibiting people from changing the sex designation on their birth certificates. A South Dakota House committee later rejected the bill in February.
Rocks Springs, Wyoming
Rock Springs is a town in Sweetwater County, Wyoming, with a population of around 23,500. Despite a score of zero out of 100 on this and last years Municipal Equality Index, a Rock Springs church made history after welcoming what it called the State first LGBTQ pride worship service in 2019, the Casper Star-Tribune reported.