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City of Grand Rapids strengthens LGBTQ+ equality score

Posted at 11:33 AM, Dec 03, 2020

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The City of Grand Rapids has strengthened its equality score, earning a 92 out of 100 on the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index.

City Manager Mark Washington made the announcement Thursday.

The index is a nationwide evaluation of municipal law that looks at how inclusive municipal laws, policies and services are of LGBTQ+ individuals 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 LGBTQ+ equality.

Grand Rapids was rated on 49 different criteria, along with 505 other municipalities across the country.

“We have improved since our initial score of 68 in 2014 and are proud of the strides we have made to be a more inclusive organization for LGBTQUIA+ individuals,” Washington said. “We celebrate our growth and remain dedicated to continued advancement of diversity, equity and inclusion within our organization and community.”

The city’s score remained the same as last year, but efforts to improve equality have actually increased, according to Director of Equity and Engagement Stacy Stout.

Internal efforts have included:

- Establishing Prism GR as a formal employee resource group (ERG) with the mission to advocate for employees with LGBTQIA+ identities

- Launching LGBTQIA+ 101 Awareness trainings for staff and are developing a more advanced 201 training

- Identifying a formal executive sponsor, Stacy Stout, for all employee resource groups and a staff coordinator, Jordoun Eatman, from the Office of Equity and Engagement to support all ERGs in cross-group coordination and programming implementation

- Designating a specific staff liaison between Prism GR and the Grand Rapids Police Department (Lieutenant Maureen O’Brien) to support LGBTQIA+ inclusive public safety practices

- Publishing a demographics statement to offer guidance to our departments on how to collect inclusive gender data that goes beyond the man and woman binary

- Beginning research on expansion of City healthcare to be inclusive of the needs of transgender employees