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East Lansing receives perfect LGBTQ+ equality index score

December 10, 2020
Downtown East Lansing on Nov. 20, 2020.
Downtown East Lansing on Nov. 20, 2020. —
Photo by Annie Barker | The State News

The Municipality Equality Index (MEI) gave East Lansing a perfect score for how LGBTQ+ inclusive the city is.

"We have received an MEI score of 100 over the past seven years, and we remain committed to maintaining that score through our efforts to be inclusive to all community members," Elaine Hardy, East Lansing's diversity, equity and inclusion administrator, said.

The MEI focuses on how inclusive municipal laws, policies and services are for LGBTQ+ community members. Specific criteria include: non-discrimination laws, the city as an employer, LGBTQ+ services, law enforcement and the city leadership's position on equality.

The index cannot exceed 100, but provides flex points. Without flex points, the city fell short as an employer with an inclusive workplace.

Ann Arbor, Detroit and Ferndale also had perfect scores, with the other seven Michigan cities ranging between 16 and 92 points.

Mayor Aaron Stephens said city officials are using training throughout the staff to acknowledge bias.

"Our entire staff is going through really what is anti-racist and anti-bias training," Stephens said. "Some of it's been put on a little bit of a hold because of COVID and then the new shutdown. But we're going to get back to things right when we can."

After hiring Hardy in June, the city has made decisions like declaring racism a public health crisis and banning conversion therapy.

In the wake of several types of reform, Stephens said it feels good to be recognized.

"Whether it's our Human Rights Commission or our Police Oversight Study Committee or it's the council itself, we're not stopping here," Stephens said.

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