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Pittsburgh Improves LGBTQIA Equality Index Scores, Expands Medical Coverage For Trans Employees

Virginia Alvino Young
90.5 WESA
Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin announces Pittsburgh's high score on the Municipal Equity Index at the City-County Building in Downtown Pittsburgh on Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017.

Pittsburgh received a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign’s annual assessment of LGBTQ-friendly laws.

Cities were scored on the inclusiveness of laws, policies and services for LGBTQIA residents. The HRC lauded Pittsburgh for its ban on conversion therapy and its non-discrimination policies. The city received additional recognition for its high score despite Pennsylvania lacking fully-inclusive non-discrimination protections.

“This did not happen this week, this did not happen this year, this did not happen in the last 10 years,” said Councilman Dan Gilman, who introduced the conversion therapy legislation. “This is decades and decades and decades of people fighting and struggling for basic human rights.”

Pittsburgh’s score of 100 is a seven point increase over the previous year. The statewide average is 75, and the national average is 57.

Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin said the Trump administration’s policies and rhetoric make this a critical time to fight for LGBTQIA rights.

“So much of our progress is under attack,” Griffin said. “In our nation’s capital and in state legislatures across the country, anti-equality politicians have been emboldened by a political climate where hate and discrimination have entered the mainstream.”

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto said he’ll fight to protect constitutional rights of every individual in the city.

“Where we are today, we’re not giving up one inch,” he said.

Peduto also announced that medical coverage has been expanded for City of Pittsburgh employees and their dependents.

“For several years now, the city has offered mental health and hormonal therapy,” Peduto said. “We are now offering coverage for surgical treatments for gender affirmation.”

City leaders and transgender advocate Ciora Thomas agreed there is still much work to be done to make the city fully inclusive.

“Knowing we have non-discrimination laws provides a sense of relief, but the bigger challenge is connecting trans people to safe, affirming, sustainable jobs,” Thomas said, noting that change will have to happen on an individual level. “It’s not just a physical investment. We need to invest in us, which requires patience, willingness, dignity, and most importantly, the willingness to listen.”