116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — The two cities anchoring the Corridor both earned perfect scores on the Human Rights Campaign’s annual rating of U.S. cities for their inclusion of LGBTQ people.
Cedar Rapids and Iowa City are among the 120 cities in the nation that scored 100 points on the Municipal Equality Index.
They accomplished this against the backdrop of a GOP-led state legislature that has proposed and passed anti-LGBTQ bills such as a ban on trans girls and women participating in sports aligning with their gender identity. Advocates say such legislation makes it more difficult for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people to live in Iowa.
For the city of Cedar Rapids, that marks an increase from its score of 97 in 2021. Before last year, Cedar Rapids scored 100 for five years.
“Achieving a perfect score illustrates Cedar Rapids’ comprehensive commitment to equality and inclusion for all,” City Manager Jeff Pomeranz said in a statement. “We will carry this work forward as we continue to build a community where everyone can feel safe, welcome and valued.”
In October 2021, Cedar Rapids filled a newly created, full-time diversity, equity and inclusion manager to spearhead the city organization’s internal and external inclusion efforts.
Elizabeth Buch, who serves in that position, said the city for the first time this year was able to raise the Progress Pride flag during LGBTQ Pride Month in June after the Cedar Rapids City Council adopted a commemorative flag display policy.
“We want everyone in Cedar Rapids — all residents — to feel seen and heard every month,” Buch said.
She said internally, an inclusive teams committee meets regularly to look over the Municipal Equality Index score card to find other ways to support marginalized populations throughout Cedar Rapids, not only during heritage months but throughout the year.
To work on creating a more inclusive workplace culture, Buch highlighted some of the benefits the city organization offers its employees such as being inclusive of common law marriages, spouses and partners. The city also offers paid maternity leave for single or married individuals or those with children through foster care or adoption.
City employees also may now add pronouns to their email signatures.
Externally, Buch said the city is working to establish and improve relationships with community groups that serve marginalized populations, including the LGBTQ community.
“As a city, we do strive to be an inclusive, welcoming community for all residents who live and work in Cedar Rapids,” Buch said.
For the ninth year in a row, Iowa City received a perfect score from the Human Rights Campaign’s annual LGBTQ+ equality assessment.
Results from the Municipal Equality Index show the city scored 112 out of 100 by receiving points for additional efforts.
“To earn a perfect score nine years in a row is truly awesome and amazing,” Mayor Bruce Teague said in a news release. “Through our commitment to diversity and inclusion for all, we have established ourselves as a welcoming place for the LGBTQ+ community to live, work and thrive.”
Stefanie Bowers, the city’s human rights coordinator and equity director, said the rating reflects the city’s dedication to equity and inclusion for all, both as an employer and a provider of services to the community.
Bowers added that the city works intentionally to offer various programs and events on civil rights and inclusion to both community members and city staff.
“The rating is a way for city staff to assess our programs, services and policies and is also an effective tool for informing us on how we compare to our peers,” Bowers said. “Most importantly, it allows us to look at how we can improve to make sure the community is providing a sense of belonging for all.”
The city’s Human Rights Commission is celebrating 60 years on Aug. 20, Bowers said. There will be programming centered on the milestone, and the commission has completed a strategic plan focusing on advancing human rights in Iowa City.
The three areas the commission prioritized, Bowers said, are bringing people together to learn from each other despite differences, developing deeper relationships with other community organizations to advance human rights and fostering stronger relationships with the Iowa City Council.
Comments: (319) 398-8494; firstname.lastname@example.org