Salt Lake City receives poor grade on LGBT equality index

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If Salt Lake City were in school, the grade it would receive from the Human Rights Campaign and Equality Federation Institute on LGBT equality would be a D+.

The two LGBT equality organizations published the annual Municipality Equality Index, which scores cities of all sizes in five categories: nondiscrimination laws, municipality’s nondiscrimination practices in employment, municipal services, law enforcement and relationship with the LGBT community.

Salt Lake City received a score of 69. Ogden was ranked next highest with 47 points, and Logan, Provo, West Jordan and West Valley City received an abysmal 35 points. Park City received 38 points.

Salt Lake City received 20 out of 30 points for its nondiscrimination laws, losing 10 potential points for lack of a public accommodations law that protects people on the basis of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. City Council members Stan Penfold and Derek Kitchen announced in October, 2016, an effort to create such an ordinance, but so far no progress has been made public.

As far as Salt Lake City as an employer, the organizers dinged the city on lack of healthcare benefits for transgender employees. The Salt Lake County Council passed Arlyn Bradshaw’s proposal to cover transgender county employees’ health care in August, 2016. The city also lost points on an ordinance requiring contractors working for the city have nondiscrimination policies.

In municipal services, the city received a 13 out of 16 score, getting credit for the state’s school anti-bullying law that covers sexual orientation, but not gender identity, according to the report.

Under law enforcement, the city received 12 out of a potential of 22 points, all of which were for the Salt Lake City Police Department’s reporting of hate crime statistics to the FBI. And while SLCPD officers are part of the Public Safety Pride Alliance, the department does not have its own named liaison with the LGBT community or task force entrusted with ensuring equal treatment.

Lastly, in the relationship the city has with the LGBT community, the city received 8 out of 8 points, and received “extra credit” of two points for having openly LGBT elected or appointed municipal leaders.

Other potential extra credit points the city lost were having an inclusive workplace (actively recruit LGBTQ employees, LGBTQ-inclusive diversity training, or an LGBTQ employee affinity group); providing specific services to LGBT youth, homeless, elders, people with HIV/AIDS or the transgender community; or actively testing the limits of restrictive state laws.

The full report is available at hrc.org/mei.

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