Dallas and Fort Worth both scored a perfect 100 on the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index. The index ranks select cities based on the inclusivity of their laws and services for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
In the fifth edition of the report, Austin was the only other Texas city to match Dallas and Fort Worth. They are three of 60 cities that scored perfectly. But North Texas’ suburbs all scored in the lower half, except for Plano. And, taken altogether, Texas cities scored below the national average of 55 out of 100.
Fort Worth, 100
Grand Prairie, 12
Plano, 74 (pretty close to Houston which scored a 71)
The 2016 MEI rates 506 cities from every state in the U.S. The number of cities rated increased by 98 cities from 2015 and increased by 369 cities since 2012. [Human Rights Campaign]
The rankings represent a sizable jump for Fort Worth, which just four years ago scored 83. This is the second consecutive year Dallas scored 100 points. The only other city in Texas to nab a perfect score was Austin.
Taken altogether, however, Texas’ cities fall well below the national average of 55 out of 100. Irving, Laredo and College Station had the lowest numbers in the state, each scoring 6 points out of 100, and McKinney ranked near the bottom with 18 points.
Another interesting take is that Plano rocketed up to 74 points this year, from a low of 14 in 2013, and was the only North Texas suburb near the top of the list.
Dallas has long worked to be a leader of greater acceptance for LGBT Texans. The city debated extending marriage rights to same-sex couples before the U.S. Supreme Court legalized the practice last June. Its police force has taken extra steps to protect individuals in the face of targeted attacks and rising anti-LGBT sentiment in certain parts of North Texas.
Each city’s rank was calculated by considering five categories:
- Non-discrimination ordinances: The presence or absence of local laws barring discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations.
- Municipality as an employer: Whether the city protects its own LGBT workers from discrimination on the job and offers inclusive health care benefits.
- Municipal services: Whether the city has a local “human rights commission” focused on LGBT citizens with a designated community liaison and whether anti-bullying rules are in place in schools.
- Law enforcement: Evaluates the relationship of the police force to LGBT citizens and tracks whether law enforcement reports hate crimes to the FBI.
- Relationship with the LGBT community: How local leaders publicly express their stance on LGBT rights, and whether they push LGBT legislation.
This year, HRC rated 506 cities, including all 50 state capitals, the 200 largest cities and most populous cities in each state and the cities and towns with the states’ largest public universities. In Texas, 25 cities were ranked. The average score was 34.