The City of Portland is proud to announce that it earned seven extra points this year on the Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC) Municipal Equality Index (MEI), with a total score of 94, the highest score in Maine. The City has now increased its score by 19 points since 2015. The HRC announced the results of the MEI on Tuesday, November 19. The MEI is the only nationwide rating system of LGBTQ inclusion in municipal law, policy and services.
“I’m so very proud of our score, and our ability to earn seven extra points over last year thanks to the hard work of our staff and a steadfast commitment of inclusion from our Mayor and Council,” said Jon Jennings, Portland City Manager. “I’d specifically like to thank our Workforce Diversity and Inclusion Specialist, Mandy Levine, who spends a considerable amount of time making sure our policies, practices, trainings, and benefits are inclusive to the people we employ and serve.”
The City's increased MEI Index score was in part due to:
- LGBTQ Liaison in the City Executive's Office (5 points) The City officially designated a liaison to the LGBTQ community who reports to the City Manager and whose designation as LGBTQ liaison and contact information is posted on the city website. The LGBTQ liaison serves as an accessible and friendly ear to the city’s LGBTQ community and elevates LGBTQ-related concerns to the city executive and other city officials. https://www.portlandmaine.gov/DocumentCenter/View/25448/LGBTQ-Liaison-to-the-City-Manager
- Conversion Therapy Ban (2 points) Gov. Janet Mills signed a bill on May 29, 2019 making Maine the 17th state to ban so-called “conversion therapy” that attempts to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of minors. The signing of this bill gave the extra two points to all municipalities in Maine.
Additionally, in support of its inclusion efforts, the City is now offering a regular training for its staff called Understanding and Supporting LGBTQ Individuals. The presentation will be led by Gia Drew, Program Director at Equality Maine. The first training will be held on November 19 and will provide City staff the opportunity to learn more about what it means to be part of the LGBTQ community with special attention given to understanding what it means to be transgender, non binary, and gender non conforming. The presentation will address ways in which City of Portland staff can be more inclusive in their day-to-day work by using inclusive language and terminology, navigating names and pronouns, processing forms and documents, and implementing smart practices to make your work space more inclusive of everyone.
Portland’s full scorecard can be found here. Here is how Portland has scored since 2015:
- 2019: 94
- 2018: 86
- 2017: 80
- 2016: 81
- 2015: 75
The MEI rated 506 cities including the 50 state capitals, the 200 largest cities in the United States, the five largest cities or municipalities in each state, the cities home to the state’s two largest public universities, 75 municipalities that have high proportions of same-sex couples and 98 cities selected by HRC and Equality Federation state group members and supporters. It assesses each city on 49 criteria covering citywide nondiscrimination protections, policies for municipal employees, city services, law enforcement, and city leadership’s relationship with the LGBTQ community. This year’s report also includes two new issue briefs for policymakers: Addressing the Unique Needs of LGBTQ Older People and Working Toward a Fully-Inclusive Municipal Workplace.
The full report, including detailed scorecards for every city, as well as a searchable database, is available online at www.hrc.org/mei.