A new NKY Pride Center is opening two blocks from City Hall.
Decisive steps to create ‘welcoming’ community a part
of economic strategy to attract talent, officials say
COVINGTON, Ky. – The nation’s largest LGBTQ advocacy group says the City of Covington continues to take decisive steps – not just make empty promises and espouse platitudes – when it comes to creating a welcoming community for LGBTQ residents and workers.
The “numbers” prove it.
In its annual Municipal Equality Index, which measures how well the City’s laws, policies, and services treat and protect its LGBTQ population and employees, the Human Rights Campaign gave Covington 96 points out of 100, up from 94 last year and 74 the year before.
The average score of 506 cities assessed across the United States was 64.
Covington officials lauded the news and said the higher score reflected aggressive efforts to institutionalize and codify the City’s work on diversity.
“This is evidence of our long-standing commitment to equality and inclusion,” Mayor Joe Meyer said. “We are proud of being a welcoming community.”
The MEI rates cities on things like non-discriminatory laws, the City as an employer, services, law enforcement, and the public position on equality of the City’s leadership. Covington’s score of 96 places it second in Kentucky, behind only Louisville.
Covington’s scorecard can be seen HERE
Economic Development Director Tom West said Covington’s score both promotes its core values and makes it easier to attract talent, jobs, and investment.
A citywide economic development strategy written by a national site selection consultant in 2019 specifically saluted Covington’s history as “a pathfinder and leader of human rights policies” and concluded that its reputation for being “welcoming” was a positive factor that helped Covington attract creative talent from out of town.
“Talent is the most important thing to companies we are trying to attract to Covington,” West said. “And this score and the welcoming environment it represents are vital to attracting the talented workers companies need to compete. We could not be more proud of the community we are representing to the business world.”
In the last year or so, Covington has taken a number of steps to improve its score, including passing an ordinance banning discrimination by City contractors for sexual orientation and gender identity and banning so-called “conversion therapy” for minors.
A new NKY Pride Center is opening two blocks from City Hall as a place to host cultural, arts and social programming; provide legal support and meeting space where needed; and to develop training for employers, agencies, teachers, and others interested in becoming LGBTQ allies.
Last year, Covington’s efforts earned it a shout-out in an NBC News story, seen HERE
in 2003, Covington became one of the first cities in Kentucky to codify its commitment to protecting all people from discrimination by passing a Human Rights Ordinance that added sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes, prohibiting discrimination within the areas of employment, housing, public accommodations, resort and amusement.
Because Covington recognizes that prospective businesses and workers considering a move to Northern Kentucky look initially at the region as a whole when making their decisions, Covington officials have lobbied hard for the region and all of its local governments to ban all discrimination and adopt similar protections.
In the last couple of years, six cities in Campbell County have committed to embracing diversity by doing so. So far, however, no city in Kenton and Boone counties – and none of the three county governments – have done so.
MEI scores for Kentucky cities:
· 100 – Louisville
· 96 – Covington
· 95 – Lexington
· 66 – Frankfort
· 55 – Morehead
· 35 -- Berea
· 20 -- Bowling Green
· 18 – Owensboro