BY NICK TROMBOLA
Late last year, Mayor John Hamilton announced that the City of Bloomington received a perfect score of 100 in the 2017 Human Rights Campaign Municipal Equality Index (MEI), which ranks several major cities in each state based on the treatment of their LGBTQ communities.
Bloomington has earned the perfect ranking for three years running—and is the only city in the state to ever earn a perfect score. That perfect score also earned Bloomington one of the Human Rights Campaign’s 41 All Star designations, which are reserved for cities that are advancing LGBTQ equality without relying on state law.
Each year, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation partners with each ranked city’s Human Rights Commission to evaluate the general treatment of local LGBTQ populations. The MEI determines scores by surveying five main categories: local non-discrimination laws, equal benefits from the municipality as the employer of people identifying as LGBTQ, municipal services, fair law enforcement, and each city’s direct relationship with the LGBTQ community. Sub-categories can include things like the inclusivity of transgender-related healthcare or the number of hate crimes reported annually.
Although City officials work hard to improve index rankings from year to year, Human Rights Commission Director Barbara McKinney believes that the dedication to equality in all parts of the community is what truly sets Bloomington apart.
“I think Bloomington received perfect scores because we’ve long made a commitment to demonstrating our inclusiveness as a community in general, not just with the MEI,” McKinney says. “We were, for example, one of the first cities to include sexual orientation as a protected class in our human rights ordinance, and one of the only to create LGBTQ liaisons for many of our government offices.”
But despite Bloomington’s reputation as one of the most LGBTQ-friendly places in Indiana, McKinney still believes that there are areas where it can continue to progress.
“There’s always room for improvement, and we welcome suggestions from anyone in our community on what we can do better, not only on LGBTQ issues specifically, but on diversity-related issues in general,” she says.