Covington continues to earn top LGBTQ+ ‘score’

COVINGTON, Ky. – Covington really is where “Y’all means all.” In fact, the “numbers” prove that Covington is one of the most inclusive cities in Kentucky.

The nation’s largest LGBTQ+ advocacy group has once again given the City of Covington the highest mark in its annual Municipal Equality Index (MEI), 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 100 points out of 100.

The score reflects aggressive and consistent efforts to institutionalize and codify the City’s commitment to diversity as it relates to that population.

“Covington is proud of the continued recognition of our LGBTQ+ inclusion through HRC’s Municipal Equality Index,” said City Manager Ken Smith. “It confirms what we know: Covington has a long history of being a welcoming city where we celebrate our diversity as a strength – not a weakness. We embrace our residents, business owners and visitors regardless of their place of origin, race, orientation, identity, or faith. It’s become somewhat cliché, but we really do mean ‘all’ when we say ‘y’all.’ ” 

In addition to Covington, Lexington and Louisville earned MEI scores of 100.

The MEI rates cities on things like non-discriminatory laws, the City as an employer, services, law enforcement, and City leadership’s public position on equality.

Click Covington's scorecard to see details.

Over the years, the City took concerted action to improve its MEI score (which was 94 out of 100 in 2019), including passing an ordinance banning discrimination by City contractors for sexual orientation and gender identity … banning the so-called “conversion therapy” for minors … and became the first city in Kentucky to adopt protection from discrimination related to hair texture and hairstyles commonly associated with a particular race or national origin, by adding provisions of The Crown Act into the City’s Human Rights Ordinance.

The NKY Pride Center, located two blocks from City Hall, hosts cultural, arts and social programs; provides legal support and meeting space where needed; and develops training for employers, agencies, teachers, and others interested in becoming LGBTQ+ allies.

“We couldn’t be more excited to see the continued commitment the City of Covington has to LGBTQA+ Covingtonians,” said Bonnie Meyer, Ph.D., NKY Pride Center president. “The 100% score on the Municipal Equality Index reflects what those of us who live and work here already know: the City’s commitment to LGBTQA+ Covingtonians is a 365-day-a-year effort. We are inclusive and we want everybody to feel that they belong.”

Meyer cited specific evidence of the City’s continued commitment to the LGBTQA+ community, such as the Covington Police Department’s LGBTQA+ liaison, and, especially, the new transgender-inclusive health benefits for City employees.

“What put us over the top this year was the City’s trans-inclusive health benefits,” said Meyer. “It was incredible that Cindy Lewis, the City’s Director of Human Resources, made that happen. It’s huge for anybody who wants to work for the City.”

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.

MEI scores for Kentucky cities:

  • 100 – Covington
  • 100 – Lexington
  • 100 – Louisville
  • 66 – Frankfort
  • 57 – Morehead
  • 57 – Berea
  • 40 – Bowling Green
  • 38 – Owensboro

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