Sterling Heights

Sterling Heights achieves near-perfect score on national Municipality Equality Index

What’s happening: The City of Sterling Heights has continued its climb up the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index (MEI), scoring 99 out of 100 for the very first time and its highest rating yet. The MEI scorecard evaluates the laws, policies, and services affecting the lives of LGBTQ+ individuals in municipalities throughout the country.

[Related: Read “Showing Pride: How Sterling Heights went from zero to hero in equality index” on Metromode.]

What it is: The 2023 Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index (MEI) evaluated 506 municipalities throughout the country on the inclusivity of their laws, policies, and services and how they affect the LGBTQ+ people that live and work there. It’s a scorecard that examines non-discrimination laws, transgender-inclusive healthcare benefits, and municipal services and programs that support the LGBTQ+ community.

Up, up, up: The near perfect score is a point of pride for the community, which promised to turn things around following a score of 8 out of 100 in 2019. It’s been nothing but an upward trajectory since then; Sterling Heights would receive a score of 38 in 2020, of 61 in 2021, of 91 in 2022, and now 99 in 2023.

How they did it: “Our near perfect score of 99 is reflective of who we are as a community and organization, especially considering [we] have several community members and employees who are part of the LGBTQ+ community,” says Sterling Heights Human Resources Manager Kate Baldwin. “We have also launched additional initiatives since 2019 including our police department adjusting their coding to capture reports of hate and bias, launching our first ever human rights commission called the CommUNITY Alliance, and embarking on our own Diversity, Equity and Inclusion journey to develop a transformative DEI Strategy for City staff and community.”

Pride in the city: “I am immensely proud of our remarkable MEI score of 99 this year," says Sterling Heights Mayor Michael Taylor. "This score reflects our unwavering commitment to fostering an inclusive and welcoming community for all residents. As we celebrate this accomplishment, we will also continue working together to ensure that every individual, regardless of their background, feels valued, respected and embraced in our city.”

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MJ Galbraith is a writer and musician living in Detroit. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.