El Paso scored a 63 and Houston scored a 76, while Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, and San Antonio all received perfect scores of 100. HRC evaluated a total of 25 Texas cities.
The index assesses the city’s nondiscrimination laws, employment practices, municipal services, law enforcement, and advocacy for equality for homosexual and transgender persons. It has been conducting its evaluation since 2012.
According to the report, 10 cities in Texas increased their score from last year.
Cities often promote their score on the index as a sign of their inclusivity. Recently, Fort Worth noted its perfect score in a press release, emphasizing it is the sixth year to receive a score of 100. As an example of its promoting these practices, Fort Worth hired Christina Brooks in 2019 as the city’s chief equity officer and director of its department of equity and inclusion.
In its frequently asked questions section, HRC clarifies that this index is not a ranking of “the city’s atmosphere or quality of life” for those who identify with the LGBTQ community.
According to HRC Houston, the largest city in Texas, received a lower score because its law enforcement division does not have a LGBTQ liaison in its office, it doesn’t have a human rights division as part of its municipal services, and it doesn’t have municipal ordinances prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
Of the largest cities in Texas, El Paso received the lowest score of 63. Points were withheld by HRC in several categories, including not offering “transgender inclusive health care benefits,” not having a LGBTQ liaison in the mayor’s office, and according to HRC, not engaging in sufficient advocacy for “pro-equality legislation.”
In the Dallas-Fort Worth region, Arlington also received a perfect score. Denton, which was the center of a recent controversy over transgender storytime, received a score of 78, and Plano received a score of 64.
McKinney, the county seat of Collin County that has seen rapid growth in recent years, received a score of 36. It was recently ranked in the top 100 places to live in America by Livability.com, which has been ranking cities based on several factors like community amenities, housing, education, and the economy for the past eight years.
Killeen, home to Fort Hood in Central Texas, and McAllen, the largest city in Hidalgo County in the Rio Grande Valley, tied for the lowest scores among Texas cities by HRC. They both received a score of 17 out of 100. Neither city received any credit for “inclusiveness” in municipal services, law enforcement, or advocacy for equality.
The Texas Labor Code prohibits discrimination in employment practices based on race, color, disability, religion, sex, national origin, or age. It does not specifically name gender identity or sexual orientation as a category.
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Kim Roberts is a reporter for the Texan in the DFW metroplex area where she has lived for over twenty years. She has a Juris Doctor from Baylor University Law School and a Bachelor's in government from Angelo State University. In her free time, Kim home schools her daughter and coaches high school extemporaneous speaking and apologetics. She has been happily married to her husband for 23 years, has three wonderful children, and two dogs.