KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Some cities around the Kansas City metro are celebrating how inclusive they are for the LGBTQ+ community while others are pledging to do better.
It comes on World Aids Day, meant to raise awareness about AIDS and HIV and remember the people who have died from it.
The Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index ranks cities based on their laws, services, and leadership around LGBTQ issues, laying the groundwork for cities to create safer and more inclusive environments for employees and citizens.
Cities like Kansas City, Missouri, Columbia, and Lawrence all got perfect scores. Meanwhile, Olathe earned a 71, Kansas City, Kansas scored 63, and Independence finished with a 25.
“Our score shows that we exceeded in areas including non-discrimination laws, municipal services, and leadership on LGBTQ equality,” said Kansas City, Missouri Mayor Quinton Lucas at a press conference.
“No matter the politics near us, whether in Jefferson City, Topeka, Washington D.C., or beyond, Kansas City will always stand for the rights of everyone,” Lucas said.
City officials in Independence pointed out that the city’s score has improved over the last few years and that, “the City of Independence Human Relations Commission unanimously decided that the MEI score of the city needed to be one of their top priorities for 2023,” wrote Communications Manager Meg Lewis in an email to FOX4.
“I think it’s a huge thing that businesses pay attention to,” said Mid-America LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce Board President Kate Neilsen.
It’s why Neilsen said she and the 400 corporate partners that her organization has look at rankings like these, reacting to what they hear from employees and people they want to hire and may relocate to the metro.
“Talent is usually attracted to companies that are diverse, welcoming, and inclusive and the same with municipalities,” Neilsen said.
Recent polling from FOX4, The Hill, and Emerson College has showed growing support for same-sex marriage around the metro, but Neilsen said it’s important for cities to address more recent concerns within the LGBTQ community as they come up not only to be inclusive but to keep that population safe.
“With gender identity, expression, and individuals who are transgender, non-binary, or just present different outside of the gender norm, that’s where things are still a little bit non-inclusive and sometimes scary,” Neilsen said.