Brookings has received a score of 100 on the Human Rights Campaign’s 2020 Municipal Equality Index (MEI) for the third year in a row, the City of Brookings and the Brookings Human Rights Commission announced Thursday. 

The Human Rights Campaign, a national organization which launched the MEI in 2012, is the largest LGBTQ civil rights organization in the United States. It evaluates and rates cities yearly on a variety of municipal criteria that affect the LGBTQ community. 

Brookings City Mayor Keith Corbett said he was impressed that Brookings once again was able to maintain a score of 100. 

“The Human Rights Commission has worked so hard on this, I have to give them the credit they deserve – the Human Rights Commission, and also the community for their continued dedication to make Brookings inclusive and welcoming for everyone,” Corbett said. 

Brookings’ 100 was tallied on a scorecard that rated non-discrimination laws, municipality as an employer, municipal services, law enforcement, and leadership in LGBTQ equality. The city also received bonus points for having openly LGBTQ elected or appointed municipal leaders, and for testing limits of restrictive state law.

Brookings also earned one of HRC’s 61 MEI “All Star” designations. MEI All Stars are cities nationwide that are excelling by advancing LGBTQ equality without relying on state law. 

“Across the country, municipalities like (Brookings) set a standard of LGBTQ inclusiveness by prioritizing measures such as local non-discrimination laws, providing transgender-inclusive health benefits for city employees, and providing services for particularly vulnerable members of the LGBTQ community,” according to the Human Rights Campaign.

The average score for cities in South Dakota is 33 out of 100 points, which falls below the national average of 64.

The city’s first MEI score in 2013 rated at only 12 out of 100. Since then, the City of Brookings, community organizations and the Human Rights Commission have continued to improve inclusivity efforts year after year, and it has paid off. 

“I am proud of Brookings, city officials, the Human Rights Commission, and all the individuals who helped make this possible and continue to pave the way to a more inclusive and welcoming community for LGBTQ+ people,” said Meagan Irvine-Miller of the Brookings Human Rights Commission. “While this is a step in the right direction, our work is not done. The Brookings Human Rights Commission continues our efforts through education and advocacy. We will be offering a Community Bystander Intervention Training in the spring and holding a Community Listening Session with the Brookings LGBTQ community.”

Brookings’ scorecard information can be found on the Human Rights Campaign website, hrc.org/mei.

By: City of Brookings

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