HRC Gives Ferndale, Detroit Perfect Scores for LGBTQ Equality
(Crystal A. Proxmire, Oct. 15, 2018)
Ferndale, Pleasant Ridge, Detroit, MI – The Human Rights Campaign Foundation and Equality Federation Institute team up each year to rate municipalities in terms of LGBTQ inclusivity and measures of equality.
This year Ferndale joined the ranks of those with scores of 100. Nationwide 78 cities that were scored achieved 100s. Last year the suburb just north of Detroit scored a 94.
The only other city in Oakland County that was examined was Pleasant Ridge, which received a score of 55.
Detroit, East Lansing and Ann Arbor also scored 100. Lansing and Grand Rapids scored 76. And Kalamazoo scored 74.
The scorecard looks at how inclusive municipal laws, policies, and services are of the LGBTQ people who live and work there.
Cities are rated based on non-discrimination laws, the municipality as an employer, municipal services law enforcement, and the City leadership’s public position on equality.
“We’re proud of our score which reflects the important policies and actions we’ve taken in support of our commitment to LGBTQ inclusion,” said Mayor David Coulter. “Ferndale is an example of the success that can be achieved when everyone is welcomed to participate and contribute their talents.”
This perfect score of 100 is an improvement from the 94 received in 2017 and reflects the continuous review of policies to move the City forward as a welcoming community for all people.
Ferndale received bonus points in multiple categories for providing the following services and benefits not currently accessible in all cities:
Single-occupancy all-gender facilities
Protection for youth from conversion therapy
City employee domestic partner benefits
Youth bullying prevention policy for City services
City provided services for LGBTQ youth, homeless, and elderly
City provided services for HIV/AIDS population
City provided services for transgender community
Openly LGBTQ elected or appointed municipal leaders
City tests limits of restrictive state laws
Ferndale is a well-known LGBTQ-friendly community, being home to Affirmations Community Center and the annual Ferndale Pride Festival.
“In 2014 – my first year on City Council – the HRC MEI score for Ferndale was 57,” said Councilperson Greg Pawlica, who also serves on the Board of Ferndale Pride. “I was appalled. How could the LGBTQ friendliest city in Michigan, and home to Affirmations, have such a low ranking. I made it my mission to work with staff and my fellow council members to get us to 100. Thank you to everyone who helped us reach this goal.”
Pawlica was there to welcome the community as Ferndale became the first city in the area to fly a rainbow flag outside City Hall for Pride Month. The Ferndale City Council also voted unanimously to add a rainbow flag to the platform of flags for City Council meetings.
The symbols of inclusion help people to feel comfortable, but it is the structural protections such as domestic partner benefits and anti-bullying policies that make cities like Ferndale score high on the HRC index.
Pleasant Ridge Mayor Kurt Metzger responded to the HRC report by defending his city. “Pleasant Ridge is a city of just under 2,500 residents, with a police department and 6 full-time employees. Studies coming out of the 2010 Census ranked Pleasant Ridge 7th highest in the nation in terms of its concentration/share of LGBTQ households,” he said.
“Unfortunately, the Human Rights Campaign’s Index uses One Set of Indicators to create its point totals, making no adjustments for city size. As a result, the same set of criteria are used to reward points, whether you live in New York City or Pleasant Ridge. Of the 11 Michigan cities that received scores, Traverse City was the closest in population to PR, and they are 6 times our size.
“I have spoken to the Index folks for the last 3 years to see if we could alter some of the criteria – such as specific staff positions and policies that are unnecessary – to make small cities more competitive. They continue to refuse and I continue to think little of their Index – assured that the LGBTQ community will continue to view Pleasant Ridge as a wonderful community to call home!”
For more on HRC rankings visit https://www.hrc.org/mei