The Human Rights Campaign recently ranked more than 500 U.S. cities for how inclusive they are to LGBTQ people, and Greensboro took the top ranking in North Carolina.
Greensboro beat out towns with strong progressive reputations, like Carrboro and Chapel Hill, which took second and third rankings on the non-profit’s annual Municipal Equality Index. The index scores municipalities for their policies and local services.
Xavier Persad is author of the index and legislative counsel to the Human Rights Campaign. Persad said the index has shown major gains in local LGBTQ protections across the country in the past 10 years, with every key measure reaching a new record this year.
“Seventy-eight cities that we scored achieved a perfect score compared to 68 last year,” said Persad.
Greensboro scored especially well for its treatment of city employees. It got high marks for offering trans-inclusive health benefits to municipal employees and for having an LGBTQ liaison to the city’s executive office. Greensboro also received multiple bonus points for providing specific services to the transgender community and to LGBTQ elders, youth and the homeless.
But Greensboro and other highly ranked towns, like all North Carolina cities, scored a zero in the scorecard’s most heavily weighted category of non-discrimination laws. Criteria in that category reward cities for enacting local laws that would protect all residents from bias in housing, employment and public accommodations.
“All of them missed out on about 30 points because of non-discrimination laws,” said Kendra Johnson, executive director of Equality NC, a non-profit that advocates for LGBTQ rights. “And that's because of the inability to pass non-discrimination ordinances in their own cities.”
Johnson is speaking of House Bill 142, the replacement law to the more well-known HB2, which both prevent cities from enacting certain local non-discrimination ordinances. Johnson said Equality NC would ideally like to see the General Assembly enact statewide non-discrimination laws, but for now the state will not allow local governments to do so. She said the efforts cities have made to support their LGBTQ residents show there is a demand for more non-discrimination measures.
“There's a clear indication that the elected officials in Greensboro and in other cities want to be able to create fairness and equality for all in the state, but they're hampered by a really unjust state law,” Johnson said.
Here’s how North Carolina cities scored on the Municipal Equality Index, on a scale of 0 to 100:
Chapel Hill 72
Cary 0 (did not submit response)
To see individual city reports, visit here.