The Human Rights Campaign has given grades to 20 cities across the state based on how inclusive the laws, policies and services are for the LGBTQ+ community.
The Municipal Equality Index (MEI) examines how inclusive municipal laws, policies and services are of LGBTQ+ people who live and work in various cities across the country. The 2017 MEI is the sixth annual edition, rating 506 cities on 44 different criteria.
Cities are graded on five categories:
-Non-discrimination laws: Is discrimination based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity prohibited for employment, housing and accommodations?
-Municipality as employer: Do they offer equal benefits and protections to LGBTQ+ employees and work with fair-minded businesses?
-Municipal services: Does the city include LGBTQ+ constituents in city services and programs?
-Law enforcement: Does law enforcement report hate crimes and does it have a thoughtful and respectful relationship with the LGBTQ+ community?
-Relationship with the LGBTQ+ community: Is city leadership committed to including the LGBTQ+ community and to advocate for full equality?
The scores the MEI gives are based out of 100, so the closer to 100, the better the score.
Several Florida cities earned 100s, including Miami Beach, Orlando, St. Petersburg, Tallahassee, West Palm Beach and Wilton Manors.
Some cities didn’t score well, including Cape Coral (39), Daytona Beach (30), and Port Saint Lucie (31).
As for Jacksonville, the River City earned a score of 67 out of 100, showing that while there are many LGBTQ+ policies in place, there is still room for improvement.
That room for improvement, according to the MEI, mainly lies in the Law Enforcement category, which states the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office has no LGBTQ+ police liaison or task force. On top of that, 2015 hate crime statistics were not reported to the FBI.
If you’d like to read the detailed 2017 MEI report, click here for a breakdown of the cities and how they scored.
Click through the gallery below to see which Florida cities were graded and what they scored.
Tyler White is a digital reporter/producer for First Coast News. You can follow Tyler on Twitter at @tylerlwhite or email him at email@example.com.