The Human Rights Campaign just released its annual report on queer and trans rights in the United States’ biggest cities, and results are… mixed.
The good news is that there are a lot of cities in Minnesota with high scores. Minneapolis and St. Paul both snagged 100 out of 100 possible points, and Duluth is up there with 86. Next is Rochester with 64. But for the other four cities that made the list (Bloomington, Eden Prairie, Minnetonka, and St. Cloud), the scores were all in the 40s.
For some context, the national average was 60. Minnesota's four low-scoring cities fall in the same general zone as Savannah, Honolulu, Roswell, and Memphis.
These scores aren't a reflection of the experiences of individual citizens, and instead are based on what measures are in place to protect the vulnerable. Minnetonka, the state's low score of 43, rated poorly on the categories about the city as an employer of LGBTQ people (7 points out of a possible 28), services available to the public (0 out of 12), and law enforcement actions (12 out of 22).
For example, Bloomington (48) doesn’t have a non-discrimination policy for city employees based on gender identity, not sexual orientation. It also doesn’t have trans-inclusive health benefits, or an inclusive workplace policy, as St. Paul does.
Cities got points for having a human rights commission, a liaison to the police department for the queer and trans community, or a stated public position in favor of LGBTQ rights. Minneapolis has all of the above. Minnetonka doesn’t.
In fact, 24 of pretty much every one of these cities’ points are sort of gimmes, thanks to existing state laws on equality in housing, employment, and public accommodations. Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Duluth have similar local ordinances of their own. None of the other cities do.
As far as our neighbors go, Madison and Milwaukee both scored 100, but Kenosha bottomed out the state of Wisconsin at 39. (That said, Wisconsin is also one of the states that has increased its scores the most since last year.) To the south, Iowa has three cities with perfect scores (Cedar Rapids, Dubuque, and Iowa City) and its lowest score (Sioux City with 57) is also higher than ours.
Overall, Minnesota's still doing relatively well at actively fighting discrimination, when you consider cities like Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, which scored all of 3 points, and Cape Girardeau, Missouri, which, along with 13 other cities, scored a cool 0.
Even among high scorers, there's room for progress. None of the Minnesota entries have laws against subjecting kids to conversion therapy, the harmful practice of trying to turn queer people straight and trans people cisgender. (Though, for the record, it’s not for lack of trying, and Minneapolis and St. Paul are working on that right now.)
So pat yourself on the back, Minnesota. You earned it. Now get back to work.