State College has made great strides in the past year in making the borough a more LGBTQ-friendly place to live and work, according to a new report.
The Human Rights Campaign Foundation recently released its 2018 Municipal Equality Index: A Nationwide Evaluation of Municipal Law report. The MEI “examines how inclusive municipal laws, policies and services are of (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) LGBTQ people who live and work there. Cities are rated based on nondiscrimination laws, the municipality as an employer, municipal services, law enforcement and the city leadership’s public position on equality.”
State College scored 98 out of 100 points, up from 73 out of 100 last year.
According to a press release from the borough, State College was able to increase its score through recent actions by borough council, such as the establishment of gender neutral bathrooms in the municipal building, creation of an LGBTQ advisory committee and passage of an ordinance that prohibits conversion therapy for minors.
“State College is not only proud of the inclusivity of our community, but we are also grateful for the diversity of those who contribute to it. This score helps affirm that equity, inclusion and justice are pillars of the State College community,” State College Mayor Don Hahn said in a press release.
Council President Evan Myers said that the score shows that the work the borough has done has made the community more equitable, but that there’s still more to do.
According to the 2018 MEI scorecard, State College received all possible points for nondiscrimination laws in employment, housing and public accommodations. It received bonus points for its conversion therapy ban.
The borough fell short in the “municipality as employer section” — it lacks transgender-inclusive health care benefits and an inclusive workplace, according to the scorecard. It received full points for nondiscrimination in city employment and city contractor nondiscrimination ordinance.
The borough got all possible points for efforts to ensure LGBTQ constituents are included in municipal services and programs, and it also received bonus points for providing services to people who have HIV/AIDS.
According to the scorecard, the State College Police Department received full marks and leadership on LGBTQ equality. Additionally, the borough received bonus points for having openly LGBTQ elected or appointed municipal leaders.
Councilman Dan Murphy, who’s serving his first year on borough council, is State College borough’s first openly gay elected official.
This summer, he helped bring about a project to paint four rainbow crosswalks in downtown State College to celebrate Pride Month.
“The visibility, the affirmation and the celebration of my community and our community is really meaningful for me,” Murphy said at the time.