Columbia earns perfect score on Municipal Equality Index

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COLUMBIA - The city of Columbia received a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign's Municipal Equality Index, city officials announced Thursday. 

The annual evaluation examined hundreds of cities on how inclusive municipal laws, policies, and services are of LGBTQ people who live and work there.

Columbia was one of 68 cities out of 506 who earned a perfect score. The city also received an All Star rating, which is awarded to cities who earn high scores in states without supportive LGBTQ laws.

“Especially in a state where people can still be fired, denied housing, and refused public services simply for being LGBT, Columbia’s leadership on LGBT equality is not only impressive, it is critical to the health, safety, and well-being of LGBT people in our state," Steph Perkins, Executive Director of PROMO said in a press release.

The Index evaluated cities based on criteria including transgender-inclusive health benefits, diversity and inclusion training and public accommodations like restrooms. 

"Columbia's score is thanks to many changes the city has adopted at the recommendation of both the HRC and the city' Commission on Human Rights," Columbia Human Rights Commission Chair-elect Zach Rubin said. "City employees being offered transgender-inclusive healthcare benefits, the appointment of a LGBT police liaison position, and increasingly vocal support from city leadership."

City officials said the perfect score is not the only effect they're seeing.

"Services like our LGBTQ liason, who helps connect LGBTQ residents with city items, have really helped us connect with the community, which is what really matters to us" Public Communications Specialist Sara Humm said. 

Rubin said they will continue to make changes to achieve a more inclusive environment. 

"We certainly won’t rest on the laurels of a perfect score, as there is always more we can do. The HRC does change their criteria from time to time, and we anticipate responding to that when they do," Rubin said. 

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