Photo Credits: MARIO RODRIGUEZ / AGGIE
Human Rights Commission awarded Sacramento 100 points on its annual Municipal Equality Index.
This November, the Human Rights Commission (HRC) awarded Sacramento 100 points on its Municipal Equality Index, which documents LGBT inclusivity in cities across the country. The goal of this report card, according to the HRC, is to reduce inequality experienced by the LBGT community.
“By inspiring and engaging individuals and communities, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBTQ people and realize a world that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all,” its website reads.
The HRC awards points based on five main categories: “non-discrimination laws,” “municipality as employer,” “municipal services,” “law enforcement” and “leadership on LGBT equality.”
This year, Sacramento was one of 14 California cities to receive a score of 100 on the HRC report card.
Steve Hansen, Sacramento’s first openly-gay city councilmember, commented on how Sacramento achieved the high score.
“We didn’t get a perfect score by accident,” Hansen said. “Basically, we rewrote our ordinances to make sure that our city was at the forefront for providing benefits to the LGBT community to get 100% on the HRC Municipal Equality Index.”
Hansen listed services offered by the city for the LGBT community, including affinity groups for LGBT employees, resources for the LGBT homeless youth population and financial aid for the Sacramento LGBT Community Center.
Ariela Cuellar, the community marketing and engagement coordinator for the LGBT Community Center, spoke about the services provided by the center specifically for the homeless youth.
“There’s a lot of misconception that [because] there’s more media representation of LGBT folks, that there’s more acceptance,” Cuellar said. “But the fact of the matter is when the youth do come out, it’s often the case that they get kicked out of their homes and have nowhere else to go.”
The center provides seven-day drop-in services and support groups to help the homeless LGBT youth in Sacramento. Laundry, showers, food and clothing are provided to youth at the drop-in service.
In addition to hosting resources for the homeless youth population, Cuellar named other services provided by the center, including free HIV and STI testing, community-building programs for elderly members of the LGBT community and support groups for trans women of color.
Despite these services, there is still work to be done. The report card is scored out of 100 points, but there were also 22 bonus points available to raise a city’s score. Without bonus points, Sacramento would have received a 91.
Both Hansen and Cuellar agree there is room for improvement in Sacramento concerning the transgender community. Hansen believes that more representation in city government is necessary.
“We need to do more for the transgender community,” Hansen said. “Many of my appointments to city commission have been LGBT folks, and I really want to bring more transgender people into our commission in the next year.”
Cuellar, however, focused on the need for more treatment options for transgender women in healthcare.
“There still needs to be a lot of advocacy work to provide more rights for trans women,” Cuellar said. “The healthcare system in general needs to provide more for folks who want to receive services such as surgeries, hormone therapy or mental health counseling.”
Hansen summarized his feelings on Sacramento’s progress so far and the future advancement of LGBT rights in the city.
“Equality isn’t a destination, it’s a process,” Hansen said. “We’ll have to continue to advocate, to fight and to bring people together to create understanding. I’m excited that we’ve made this progress, but I’m not resting until we make sure everybody feels safe, respected and protected.”
Written by: Eden Winniford –– email@example.com