slides: Human Rights Campaign Graded Worcester Below Average For LGBT Inclusivity

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Worcester received below average scores in a recent national survey rating the inclusiveness of municipalities toward lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

The Human Rights Campaign's Municipal Equality Index looks at the laws, policies, and services of local municipalities, rating them on the basis of their inclusivity of LGBT people who live and work in those communities.

Out of a top score of 100, Worcester's final score for 2013 came in at 55.

But John Trobaugh, president of Worcester Pride, thinks the city is somewhat hampered on that scale by forward-thinking policy on the state level.

“Where we are right now is probably better than the rating shows,” Trobaugh said.

“In general, Worcester is probably closer to 75 than 55.”

Not a Quality of Life Indicator

The index isn't an evaluation of the atmosphere or quality of life of a particular city, but rather “an evaluation of the city's laws and policies and an examination of how inclusive city services are of LGBT people,” the report says. Paradoxically, “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.”

Other regions in Massachusetts surveyed by the Human Rights Campaign varied widely, ranging from Cambridge and Boston — both of which received perfect scores — to Northampton (80), Provincetown (76), Springfield (56), and Amherst (49).

Trobaugh said many of the categories were locally affected by the state's early adoption of marriage equality and non-discrimination laws. “I really feel Worcester as a city is very LGBT friendly,” he said. “Could be better, but I think in general Worcester is really in a good place.”

  • Worcester Non-Discrimination Laws

    This category evaluates whether discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity is prohibited by the city, county, or state in areas of employment, housing, and public accommodations.

    Worcester is subject to Massachusetts state laws with regard to employment, housing, and public accomodations that prohibit discrimination on the basis of both sexual orientation and gender identity, excepting only public accomodations laws with regard to gender identity, so they fall closely within line of HRC's best practices. 

    Non-Discrimination Laws  
    points for sexual orientation 3 out of 3
    points for gender identity 3 out of 3
    points for sexual orientation 3 out of 3
    points for gender identity 3 out of 3
    Public Accommodations  
    points for sexual orientation 3 out of 3
    points for gender identity 0 out of 3
    Total Score 15 out of 18
  • Worcester Relationship Recognition

    Because this is an evaluation of municipalities, not states, and marriage is a state-level policy, this section is weighted so that an equal number of points are awarded for marriage (or other state relationship recognition) and municipal domestic partner registries.

    Since Massachusetts became the sixth jurisdiction in the world to legalize same-sex marriage in 2004, Worcester residents are granted ample recognition of their relationships without regard to same or opposite sex. 

    Relationship Recognition 2013
    Marriage Equality, Civil Unions, Domestic Partnerships 12 out of 12
  • Worcester Municipality as Employer

    By offering equivalent benefits and protections to LGBT employees, and by awarding contracts to fair-minded businesses, municipalities commit themselves to treating LGBT employees equally.

    By the HRC's account, Worcester falls short as an employer, lacking ample forthright laws forbidding discrimination in city employment, ensuring equivalent family leave, and affirmatively forbidding discrimination in awarding city contracts and benefits to contractors.

    Municipality as Employer 2013
    Non-Discrimination in City Employment  
    points for sexual orientation 0 out of 5
    points for gender identity 0 out of 5
    Domestic Partner Health Benefits
    4 out of 4
    Legal Dependent Benefits
    2 out of 2
    Equivalent Family Leave
    0 out of 2
    City Contractor
    Non-Discrimination Ordinance
    points for sexual orientation 0 out of 2
    points for gender identity 0 out of 2
    City Contractor
    Equal Benefits Ordinance
    0 out of 4
    Total Score 6 out of 26
  • Worcester Municipal Services

    This section assesses the efforts of the city to ensure LGBT constituents are included in city services and programs.

    A lack of a direct liason to the LGBT community in the mayor's office as well as no formally enumerated anti-bullying policies in schools at the municipal level hurt Worcester in this category. Worcester does have a Human Rights Office tasked with, among other things, "advocat[ing] for the human and civil rights of ALL residents of the City."

    Municipal Services 2013
    Human Rights Commission
    7 out of 7
    LGBT Liaison in
    the Mayor’s Office
    0 out of 5
    Enumerated Anti-Bullying
    School Policies
    points for sexual orientation 0 out of 3
    points for gender identity 0 out of 3
    Total Score 7 out of 18
  • Worcester Law Enforcement

    Fair enforcement of the law includes responsible reporting of hate crimes and engaging with the LGBT community in a thoughtful and respectful way.

    Worcester reports hate crime statistics, but their lack of a specific LGBT police liason or task force caused an 8 point deduction from their final score.

    Municipal Services 2013
    LGBT Police Liaison
    or Task Force
    0 out of 8
    Reported 2011 Hate Crimes
    Statistics to the FBI
    10 out of 10
    Total Score 10 out of 18
  • Worcester Relationship with the LGBT Community

    This category measures the city leadership’s commitment to fully include the LGBT community and to advocate for full equality.

    Worcester was noted for it's leadership's public position on LGBT equality. However, it seems the Human Rights Commission sees room for improvement there. Furthermore, there have not been enough legislative efforts to pick up points in that department. Other direct efforts to engage with the LGBT community, however, landed Worcester 2 bonus points.

    Municipal Services 2013
    Leadership’s Public Position
    on LGBT Equality
    3 out of 5
    Leadership’s Pro-Equality
    Legislative or Policy Efforts
    0 out of 3
    Total Score 3 out of 8
    BONUS: City engages with
    the LGBT community
    2 Bonus Points
  • Total Scores

    81 out of 100

    Categories 2013
    I. Non-Discrimination Laws
    15 out of 18
    II. Relationship Recognition 12 out of 12
    III. Municipality as Employer 6 out of 26
    IV. Municipal Services 7 out of 18
    V. Law Enforcement 10 out of 18
    VI. Relationship with the LGBT Community 3 out of 8
    Bonus 2 points
    Total Score 55 out of 100