How Do School Policies in Your Area Score in HRC’s MEI?
Check Out Our Table of 170+ Municipalities


The Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index (MEI) offers a treasure trove of data on city and county policies, including policies affecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth and their allies. The report, issued annually, “examines the laws, policies, and services of municipalities and rates them on the basis of their inclusivity of LGBT people.”

The 2013 MEI, released late last month, rates 291 cities and counties from every state. Twenty-five municipalities received a perfect score of 100—though, as explained below, a perfect overall score does not necessarily mean the municipality scored perfectly on youth-related policies.

Scroll down or click here to see our table summarizing MEI school-related data from over 170 locations.

How Does the MEI Rank Municipalities for Youth-Related Policies?

When it comes to LGBT youth and their allies in schools, the MEI’s most important component is the rating for “enumerated school anti-bullying policies.” To earn the full six points available in this category, a municipality (or every one of its individual school districts) “must specifically prohibit bullying and enumerate the bases of sexual orientation and gender identity as prohibited grounds upon which to bully.” A municipality can earn three points for policies that enumerate sexual orientation but not gender identity (or vice-versa).

Related Youth Allies posts about enumeration:

The 2013 MEI also awards up to two “bonus points” to municipalities that provide targeted services to vulnerable LGBT populations, such as LGBT youth.

Anti-Bullying Highlights from the 2013 MEI

Flag in Map Shape of Texas
Though Texas lacks an inclusive anti-bullying law at the state level, several of its major cities have inclusive school policies.

As HRC emphasized in a blog post summarizing the 2013 MEI’s results, many cities have policies expressly protecting against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity even where state-level policy is not particularly LGBT-friendly. This holds true for youth-related policies. For example, several major cities in Texas—namely, Amarillo, Brownsville, Dallas, Fort Worth, Grand Prairie and Houston—received full credit for inclusive, enumerated anti-bullying policies, even though Texas does not have a state law specifically addressing bullying or harassment based on sexual orientation or gender identity. San Antonio, which recently expanded its anti-discrimination ordinance, earned three points for its anti-bullying policies, as did Austin. (The remaining Texas cities in the MEI received zero points in the school anti-bullying category.)

Other “red state” cities receiving six out of six points for their anti-bullying policies include Atlanta (GA), Brookings (SD), Jackson (MS), Lexington (KY), Nashville (TN), Oklahoma City (OK), Omaha (NE), Phoenix (AZ), and Salt Lake City (UT).

Additional points worth highlighting:

  • Some cities with poor (or even abysmal) overall scores (like Birmingham, Alabama, and Amarillo, Texas) nevertheless received six out of six points for enumerated anti-bullying policies. Bellevue, Nebraska, provides the most striking example: This city earned six points for its anti-bullying policies but did not receive a single point in any other policy area.
  • Some cities that are famously progressive on LGBT issues did not earn all six available points for anti-bullying policies. Cambridge and Provincetown in Massachusetts, for example, each earned three of six points.
  • Marriage equality is not a perfect predictor of inclusive school policies, particularly when it comes to the inclusion of gender identity. For example, none of the three Minnesota cities in the MEI received more than three of six points for their anti-bullying policies; two of three Delaware cities in the MEI received zero points; and only one city (Northampton) of six cities rated in Massachusetts received six out of six points in this category.
  • As the MEI report itself notes, the MEI does not rank the best places for LGBT people to live. It doesn’t address atmosphere or quality of life, for example (at least not directly): “Some high-scoring cities may not feel truly welcoming for all LGBT people, and some low-scoring cities may feel more welcoming than their policies might reflect.”
  • A state or city may have a fully inclusive, enumerated anti-discrimination law covering schools but lack a fully enumerated anti-bullying law. Wisconsin provides an example. I’ll explore the difference between these types of laws in a future post. GLSEN distinguishes the two types of laws here.

A Table of 170+ Municipalities, and Some Issues for Future Posts

I’ve created the table below to summarize MEI school-related data from over 170 cities in states that lack a fully inclusive state-level anti-bullying law. In other words, if a state law specifically requires that municipalities include “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” in their anti-bullying policies, then municipalities from that state do not appear in this table. You can find information about municipalities in those other states, however, on HRC’s website.

A few other issues in the MEI materials caught my attention, and I hope to address them in future posts:

  • HRC has indicated that future MEIs will treat anti-harassment policies differently from anti-bullying policies. But it’s not yet entirely clear to me how or why HRC will draw the distinction.
  • LGBT equality organizations assess school-related policies in different ways, and the differences warrant further study. The MEI, for example, says that Hawai’i has a state-level, fully enumerated anti-bullying policy. In contrast, GLSEN’s map of inclusive anti-bullying policies does not (as of today) include Hawai’i, and Lambda Legal says that while Hawai’i has an inclusive anti-bullying law, it won’t go into effect until 2030 (!).
  • What explains some apparent inconsistencies in HRC’s MEI data? For example, some scorecards for cities in New Mexico (like this one) indicate that the state has a state-level, enumerated anti-bullying law (at least with respect to sexual orientation), while scorecards for other New Mexico cities (like this one) indicate that the state has no such law.

If you spot other errors or issues worth addressing, please let me know!

Municipality, State
(Table only includes municipalities from states without state-level enumerated anti-bullying laws)

Municipality’s overall score
(out of 100)

Points for “enumerated anti-bulllying policies”
(out of 6)

Birmingham, AL

9

6

Huntsville, AL

17

0

Mobile, AL

21

0

Montgomery, AL

15

0

Tuscaloosa, AL

10

0

Anchorage, AK

21

3

Fairbanks, AK

2

0

Juneau, AK

23

3

Chandler, AZ

22

0

Glendale, AZ

13

3

Mesa, AZ

41

3

Phoenix, AZ

100

6

Scottsdale, AZ

23

0

Tempe, AZ

72

6

Tucson, AZ

90

3

Dover, DE

57

3

Newark, DE

52

0

Rehobeth Beach, DE

62

6*

Wilmington, DE

54

0

Cape Coral, FL

10

0

Fort Lauderdale, FL

77

6*

Hialeah, FL

58

6*

Hollywood, FL

54

6*

Jacksonville, FL

25

3*

Miami, FL

67

6*

Miami Beach, FL (self-submission)

100

6*

Miami Shores, FL

56

6*

Oakland Park, FL

85

6*

Orlando, FL

79

6*

Pembroke Pines, FL

43

6*

Port Saint Lucie, FL

0

0

St. Petersburg, FL

66

6*

Tallahassee, FL

84

6*

Tampa, FL

89

6*

Wilton Manors, FL

82

6*

Athens, GA

44

6*

Atlanta, GA

100

6

Augusta-Richmond, GA

12

0

Avondale Estates, GA

56

6

Columbus, GA

20

0

Decatur, GA

27

6

North Druid Hills (DeKalb County), GA

15

6

Boise, ID

56

0

Meridian, ID

13

0

Nampa, ID

24

0

Bloomington, IN

70

3

Evansville, IN

39

0

Fort Wayne, IN

30

0

Indianapolis, IN

66

0

Kansas City, KS

0

0

Lawrence, KS

55

0

Overland Park, KS

27

0

Topeka, KS

32

0

Wichita, KS

22

3

Bowling Green, KY

17

0

Frankfort, KY

31

0

Lexington, KY

53

6*

Louisville, KY

50

0

Baton Rouge, LA

7

0

New Orleans, LA

91

6

Shreveport, LA

16

0

Amherst, MA

49

3

Boston, MA

100

0**

Cambridge, MA

100

3**

Northampton, MA

80

6

Provincetown, MA

76

3

Springfield, MA

56

0

Worcestor, MA

55

0

Ann Arbor, MI

88

0

Detroit, MI

72

6

East Lansing, MI

86

6

Ferndale, MI

45

3

Grand Rapids, MI

56

0

Lansing, MI

66

6

Pleasant Ridge, MI

60

3*

Warren, MI

15

3

Minneapolis, MN

100

0**

Rochester, MN

66

3

St. Paul, MN

96

3

Gulfport, MS

10

0

Jackson, MS

17

6

Southaven, MS

0

0

Starkville, MS

0

0

Columbia, MO

74

0

Jefferson City, MO

12

0

Kansas City, MO

100

6

Springfield, MO

37

0

St. Louis, MO

100

6

Billings, MT

2

0

Great Falls, MT

22

0

Helena, MT

48

3

Missoula, MT

100

6

Bellevue, NE

6

6

Lincoln, NE

46

0

Omaha, NE

64

6

Carson City, NV

55

0

Enterprise (Clark County), NV

90

6

Henderson, NV

55

0

Las Vegas, NV

91

6

North Las Vegas, NV

53

0

Paradise (Clark County)

90

6

Reno, NV

61

6*

Albuquerque, NM

62

3

El Dorado at Santa Fe, NM

42

3

Las Cruces, NM

44

3

Rio Rancho, NM

37

3

Santa Fe, NM

78

3

Bismarck, ND

17

0

Fargo, ND

49

3

Grand Forks, ND

30

0

Akron, OH

48

6

Cincinatti, OH

90

3

Cleveland, OH

83

0

Columbus, OH

100

6

Toledo, OH

70

0

Norman, OK

33

0

Oklahoma City, OK

28

6

Tulsa, OK

46

3

Allentown, PA

50

0

Harrisburg, PA

76

0

New Hope, PA

89

6

Philadelphia, PA

100

6

Pittsburgh, PA

72

3

University Park / State College, PA

63

6

Cranston, RI

67

3

Kingston, RI

58

6

Providence, RI

81

6

Warwick, RI

69

6

Charleston, SC

54

6*

Columbia, SC

61

0

N. Charleston, SC

47

6*

Aberdeen, SD

10

0

Brookings, SD

34

6

Pierre, SD

13

3

Rapid City, SD

19

0

Sioux Falls, SD

24

0

Chattanooga, TN

15

0

Knoxville, TN

38

6*

Memphis, TN

40

6*

Nashville, TN

61

6

Amarillo, TX

16

6

Arlington, TX

11

0

Austin, TX

100

3**

Brownsville, TX

38

6

Corpus Christi, TX

19

0

Dallas, TX

81

6

El Paso, TX

51

0

Forth Worth, TX

91

6

Garland, TX

17

0

Grand Prairie, TX

21

6

Houston, TX

63

6

Irving, TX

16

0

Laredo, TX

2

0

Lubbock, TX

5

0

Plano, TX

14

0

San Antonio, TX

86

3

Provo, UT

10

0

Salt Lake City, UT

87

6

West Valley City, UT

42

6

Alexandria, VA

70

3

Arlington County, VA

76

6

Chesapeake, VA

15

0

Fairfax County, VA

40

6

Newport News, VA

20

3

Norfolk, VA

12

0

Richmond, VA

36

6

Virginia Beach, VA

32

0

Charleston, WV

64

6*

Huntington, WV

13

6*

Morgantown, WV

57

6*

Parkersburg, WV

16

6*

Green Bay, WI

48

6

Madison, WI

100

6

Milwaukee, WI

91

3*

Cheyenne, WY

14

0

Laramie, WY

10

0

MK

Follow Youth Allies on Facebook, Twitter & Google Plus.

Table Notes:

* Single asterisk: Municipalities marked with a single asterisk received the designated score based on a county-level law or policy in the county where they are located. These municipalities may—but do not necessarily—have inclusive city-level or school-district-level policies as well.

** Double asterisk: Some municipalities received a seemingly perfect overall score of 100 even though they did not earn full credit for enumerated anti-bullying policies. This happened because of bonus points: If a city received bonus points in another area of inquiry (because, for example, it provides transgender-inclusive health benefits or has elected openly LGBT officials), its score may have reached 100 even if it does not have fully inclusive anti-bullying policies.

The MEI 2013 provides inconsistent data on New Mexico. El Dorado at Santa Fe, for example, received three out of six points for enumerated anti-bullying policies based on the supposed existence of a state law; however, HRC’s scorecard for other New Mexico cities, like Alburquerque, indicate that New Mexico lacks a state-level enumerated anti-bullying law. I will address the discrepancy in a future post on this blog. Other HRC materials and GLSEN materials do not list New Mexico as having an inclusive, enumerated anti-bullying law, though HRC notes that New Mexico has an administrative regulation addressing school harassment based on sexual orientation.