COLLEGE PARK – The city ranked higher than the national average and improved its score by 24 points from last year on an index measuring the city’s inclusiveness to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual (LGBT) community. The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the largest advocacy group for LGBT equality, evaluated 353 cities on how inclusive […]
COLLEGE PARK – The city ranked higher than the national average and improved its score by 24 points from last year on an index measuring the city’s inclusiveness to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual (LGBT) community.
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the largest advocacy group for LGBT equality, evaluated 353 cities on how inclusive their laws, policies, benefits and services were to the LGBT community.
Of the six Maryland cities HRC evaluated this year – Rockville, Frederick, Gaithersburg, College Park, Baltimore and Annapolis – College Park ranked second with a score of 86, following Baltimore, which scored a perfect 100. The national average was 59.
In 2013, College Park ranked third out of five Maryland cities with a score of 62, while Annapolis scored 70 and Baltimore scored 100.
“I think it’s great. We’ve been making an effort to enact inclusive policy,” said city councilmember Patrick Wojahn.
Wojahn attributed the increased score partially to state legislation passed earlier this year in the General Assembly. In March, the state legislature passed a bill banning discrimination on the basis of gender identity.
To improve its score, the city would have to include transgender healthcare benefits for city employees, establish a LGBT liaison to the city executive, establish a LGBT police liaison or task force, and establish a domestic partner registry. In October the city council discussed ways to address these factors for 2015.
“We’ve been in communication with the Prince George’s County police department,” said Wojahn, referring to establishing a LGBT police liaison.
Ultimately, the police department has the final say, Wojahn said.
Instead of establishing a LGBT liaison to the city, Wojahn said council members have instead talked about establishing a liaison that would work with various underrepresented populations in the city.
The city is also considering adding trans-inclusive health benefits to employee insurance coverage, though the price is still being negotiated, Wojahn said.
Next week, the city will hold a public hearing about adding clauses about gender identity and sexual orientation to the city’s charter nondiscrimination policies, as well as the city’s employment policies.