Home Survey: How are Virginia city council members protecting LGBTQ+ residents?

Survey: How are Virginia city council members protecting LGBTQ+ residents?

Crystal Graham
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Virginia fared well in a survey of LGBTQ+ equality in the areas of municipal policies, laws and services.

The average score for cities surveyed for the Municipal Equality Index in Virginia is 95 out of 100 points, which exceeds the national average of 71.

Nationwide, 120 cities earned the highest score of 100, which is up from 11 in 2012, the MEI’s inaugural year, illustrating the striking advancements municipalities have made over the past 12 years.

The report was released by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation in partnership with the Equality Federation.

“Cities and towns around the country are stepping up each and every day, finding new and innovative ways to empower LGBTQ+ people in the face of a dire national state of emergency,” said Kelley Robinson, President of the Human Rights Campaign. “Even when anti-LGBTQ+ extremists in state capitals are working to undermine their progress, mayors and city council members keep fighting to make sure that LGBTQ+ people in their communities – especially trans people – are supported and lifted up to the fullest extent possible. This year’s Municipal Equality Index shows the results of their dedication, while acknowledging the increasingly hostile environment in which they must govern.”

Earlier this year, HRC declared a “National State of Emergency for LGBTQ+ Americans,” citing the proliferation of hate against the LGBTQ+ community (particularly transgender people), legislative attacks on gender-affirming care, and growing numbers of extreme politicians fighting to turn back the clock on LGBTQ+ rights.

“As we see opponents of LGBTQ+ rights increasing their attacks on transgender youth in state legislatures, the importance of local-level protections cannot be overstated,” said Fran Hutchins, Executive Director of Equality Federation Institute. “Local advocates and community leaders are finding new, creative ways to keep their communities safe, to let queer and trans people know they are loved and belong, no matter what discriminatory state laws are passed. I find inspiration in this year’s Municipal Equality Index, as it shows the dedication of these advocates who continue to have difficult conversations to change hearts and minds in order to witness progress in their communities. We all benefit from their unwavering commitment to equality.”

In Virginia, the Municipal Equality Index surveyed the following cities and awarded them scores out of a maximum of 100:

  • Alexandria:   100/100
  • Hampton:   100/100
  • Richmond:   100/100
  • Roanoke:   100/100
  • Virginia Beach:  100/100
  • Arlington County:  100/100
  • Fairfax County:  100/100
  • Charlottesville:  99/100
  • Norfolk:   97/100

The Municipal Equality Index scores the 50 state capitals, the 200 largest cities in the United States, the five largest cities or municipalities in each state, the cities home to the state’s two largest public universities, 75 cities and municipalities that have high proportions of same-sex couples and 98 cities selected by HRC and Equality Federation state groups, members and supporters.

The full 2023 MEI report, including detailed scorecards for every city and a searchable score database, is available online at www.hrc.org/mei.

Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.