Human Rights Campaign Gives Virginia Beach a Perfect 100 on the Municipal Equality Index

City significantly improves score on measures of inclusiveness earning the highest raw score in the state

Thursday, December 03, 2020

​The Municipal Equality Index (MEI) examines how inclusive municipal laws, policies and services are for the LGBTQ+ people who live and work there. Cities are rated based on nondiscrimination laws, the municipality as an employer, municipal services, law enforcement and city leadership's public position on equality.

Of the 506 municipalities scored nationwide, 94 earned perfect scores in 2020 – that's up from just 88 in 2019. Virginia Beach is one of four localities in Virginia to earn a perfect score or better and earned the highest raw score among all cities in Virginia.

Since 2019, when Virginia Beach scored a 77 on the index, the City has worked hard to create or change policies and ordinances designed to increase the visibility of services for LGBTQ individuals, as well as develop programs to engage and support the community, such as Pride at the Beach and Pride Night at the Aquarium.

Both companies and municipalities understand that embracing equality is not only the right thing to do, it is also good for businesses and the local economy. The MEI therefore serves as a guide to help local governments further equality, but also as a resource for companies looking to expand into areas that are actively fostering inclusion.

The Human Rights Campaign provides a maximum score of 100, but also provides a raw score that can be higher due to bonus points. Virginia Beach's raw score – 113 – was actually higher than a "perfect" 100. Since 2018, when the City earned just a 50, Virginia Beach has improved its score in the following areas:

  • Nondiscrimination laws in employment, housing and public accommodations
  • Protecting youth from conversion therapy
  • Providing all-gender, single-occupancy restrooms in city facilities
  • Transgender-inclusive health benefits
  • City contractor nondiscrimination ordinance
  • Having an inclusive workplace
  • Having a dedicated LGBTQ liaison to the city manager
  • Enacting a youth anti-bullying policy
  • Services offered to LGBT youth
  • Services offered to LGBT homeless people
  • Services available to people living with HIV/AIDS
  • Leadership's pro-equality stance
  • Having an openly LGBT elected official

"I'm incredibly proud of the work our City has put into making sure our services, policies and ordinances are more welcoming, which led to these increased scores," said Neva White, Virginia Beach's LGBTQ liaison to the City Manager. "Our outcome has always been to make our services demonstrate that we're open to all who want to work in, live in, and visit our city."

The 506 cities rated as a part of the MEI include 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 municipalities that have high proportions of same-sex couples and 98 cities selected by HRC and Equality Federation state group members and supporters. It assesses each city on 49 criteria covering citywide nondiscrimination protections, policies for municipal employees, city services, law enforcement and city leadership's relationship with the LGBTQ community.

To review the full report and each individual city's score, visit hrc.org/resources/municipal-equality-index.

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