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Phoenix and Tempe receive a perfect score in LGBTQ+ governmental inclusion

The Human Rights Campaign ranked 506 cities based on LGBTQ+ inclusion policies

Tempe Phoenix.jpg

"There were 11 cities ranked in Arizona, with three receiving a perfect score: Tempe, Phoenix and Tucson." Illustration published on Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019. 

Phoenix and Tempe both earned perfect scores on the Human Rights Campaign's Municipal Equality Index, which was released on Tuesday. 

The two cities, which both have an ASU campus, were given a perfect score of 100/100, and officials from both Phoenix and Tempe celebrated the score. 

The MEI is the only nationwide assessment of LGBTQ+ inclusion that focuses on how the government is working toward inclusion. The index is divided into five categories: non-discrimination laws, municipality as an employer, municipal services, law enforcement and leadership on LGBTQ+ equality.

Of the 506 cities that were evaluated, 88 received a perfect score of 100/100. There were 11 cities ranked in Arizona, with three receiving a perfect score: Tempe, Phoenix and Tucson. Some Arizona cities did not fare as well, such as Peoria, Avondale and Mesa, which had scores of 23, 28 and 56, respectively. 

Commander Vince Boerbon, the LGBTQ liaison for the Tempe Police Department, said the city of Tempe does not take this ranking lightly.

"We look for diverse people that are a representation of our community," Boerbon said. "We truly live it, breath it, walk it, talk it."

He said Tempe, in comparison to other cities in Arizona, embraces inclusivity. 

"We're excited about it, whereas in other cities, they don't want to talk about it," he said. "It's still taboo."

In comparison to other Arizona cities, Boerbon said that Tempe's young college demographic contributes to the openness the city has to the LGBTQ+ community.  

"Other cities ask me, 'What's the recipe?'" Boerbon said. "It's just the culture."

Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego also shared excitement about the report, as this is Phoenix's seventh straight year with a perfect score. 

"Phoenix’s perfect score is a testament to the values and principles that make our city a welcoming place to live, work and play," Gallego said in an email statement through a spokesperson. "Cities will continue to be the guardians of LGBTQ protections until state and federal anti-discrimination laws are expanded to defend LGBTQ individuals."

Zoey Fragoso, a senior studying interdisciplinary studies and president of Confetti, said from an institutional standpoint, Phoenix is doing well. However, it is the emotional aspect that shouldn't be forgotten.

"From an institutional standpoint, I feel like (MEI) reflects what Phoenix is actually like," Fragoso said. "But you don't know who doesn't feel safe at home." 

She said she started Confetti, a club for students to come together for inclusion, to be a safe space for students.

"I wanted to give a space that was unabashedly queer and unapologetically queer and accessible to as many people as possible," she said.

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Ellie BorstExecutive Editor 2021-22

Ellie Borst is the executive editor of The State Press, overseeing the publication and its four departments: online, magazine, multimedia and engagement. She plans to graduate in May 2022 with her master's in legal studies and got her bachelor's in journalism in 2021. Previous roles she has held since joining SP in 2018 include digital managing editor, magazine managing editor, community and culture desk editor, and arts and culture reporter.

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