Nov 23, 2021 - News

Arkansas' LGBTQ+ inclusivity lags behind

Municipal Equality Index scores for cities in Arkansas in 2021
Source: Human Rights Campaign; Map: Thomas Oide/Axios

Human Rights Campaign released its 10th annual municipal equality index, which analyzes how inclusive cities are of the LGBTQ+ community, and NWA’s Fayetteville and Springdale made the list.

How it works: Human Rights Campaign measures across five categories — non-discrimination laws, the municipality as an employer, municipal services, law enforcement and leadership on LGBTQ+ equality.

  • Cities score points based on what their policies and what they offer with some room for "flex" or bonus points.
  • For example, 12 points are possible under municipal services for having a human rights commission, a nondiscrimination ordinance enforced by the commission and an LGBTQ+ liaison in the city's executive office.
  • Cities can also earn flex points under this category for things like providing services to LGBTQ+ youth or LGBTQ+ people experiencing homelessness.

Details: With 100 points possible, Fayetteville scored 44 and Springdale scored 7.

  • Fayetteville earned 12 points for reporting hate crime statistics to the FBI, 13 points in the leadership in LGBTQ+ equality category, 14 points for non-discrimination based on both sexual orientation and gender identity in employment and 5 points for having a human rights commission.
  • Springdale earned 7 points for non-discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment.

Zoom out: Eureka Springs scored the highest of the Arkansas cities analyzed. It scored 61, followed by Little Rock with 60. Jonesboro earned zero points.

  • Larger cities in our neck of the woods, including Austin, Dallas, Kansas City and St. Louis all scored 100. Tulsa scored 78, and Oklahoma City scored 61.

Context: Municipalities only have so much say. State laws can make it harder or easier to be more inclusive of the LGBTQ+ community depending on where you live.

  • Fayetteville earned zero out of 30 points possible on the non-discrimination laws category but got three “flex points” for testing the limits of the state’s laws.
  • You may remember the city passed an anti-discrimination ordinance in 2015 to prevent businesses and landlords from discriminating against LGBTQ+ individuals, but then the Arkansas Supreme Court ruled it violated state law.

Go deeper: Explore the reports here.


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