Jackson once again scored the highest in Mississippi on the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index. The index rates municipal policies, laws and services that affect the LGBTQ+ community.
The 2022 Municipal Equality Index has been released as hostility towards LGBTQ+ people across the country has steadily increased.
The state capital dipped from a score of 80 in 2020 and 2021, dropping nine points this year.
Starkville was second to Mississippi, scoring a 43 on a 100-point scale. That was an improvement from the year before, when he scored a 31. Hattiesburg scored a 38 to finish third in the state this year, maintaining his score from last year.
Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves has unveiled priorities for next year’s legislative session, including what he called a “Parental Bill of Rights,” which he said would allow parents to determine what pronouns their children should be called in public schools. In November, the US Senate passed bipartisan legislation to protect same-sex marriages, but Mississippi Senators Roger Wicker and Cindy Hyde-Smith, Republicans, were among 36 who voted against it. bill.
Despite this, the municipal equality index shows that 2022 had more perfect scores, a higher overall average than 2021, and 75% of scores exceeded 51 points.
“Once again, the MEI has shown that regardless of what happens in state legislatures, local leaders understand the ongoing need to ensure that people in their communities are safe, seen and cared for,” the conclusion reads. Of the report.
For the first time since 2015, the city of Southaven, outside of Memphis, scored points on the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index. Prior to this year, Southaven, who has been rated in the report since at least 2015, had never scored higher than a zero. A score of zero means that a municipality has no laws, policies, or services that support LGBTQ people.
Across the state line in Tennessee, members of the Memphis community came together in late November for a candlelight vigil organized by OUTMemphis to honor those killed in Colorado Springs, including a person from Mississippi.
Southaven earned twelve points in the 2022 HRC Municipal Equality Index for reporting 2020 hate crime statistics to the FBI. The FBI publishes hate crime statistics every year in November, and while federal law requires the FBI to collect hate crime data from state, local, tribal, and university law enforcement, those agencies are not required to submit data. to the FBI.
Officials with the Southaven Police Department could not be reached for comment.
In 2021, Southaven was one of eight cities in the country and the only one of nine ranked cities in Mississippi to score zero points. In 2022, only six cities scored a zero. With 12 points, Southaven scored more points than Bay St. Louis and Ocean Springs, who had three and five points respectively.
Last year, Rob Hill, the state director for HRC Mississippi, told The Commercial Appeal that Southaven wouldn’t need much to improve his score. The city can do any number of things to earn more points in 2023, including, but not limited to, appointing an LGBTQ+ liaison from the police force to the mayor’s office, appointing a liaison within the mayor’s office to the mayor himself, recognizing the pride month, pass a nondiscrimination ordinance, or pass a nondiscrimination policy for the city’s own employees.
“We’re not saying that LGBTQ people in this city need something special, special rights or special recognition, we just want the same rights and recognition that everyone else gets,” Hill said.
Mississippi cities scored on LGBTQ+ inclusion:
- Bahia Luis street: 3
- Biloxi: 30
- gulf port: 13
- Hattiesburg: 38
- Jackson: 71
- Ocean Springs: 5
- oxfords: 18
- Southaven: 12
- Starkville: 43
Commercial Appeal in Memphis contributed to this report.