Lake Charles scores poorly in protecting LGBTQ community

Updated: Oct. 12, 2018 at 6:03 PM CDT
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LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - A new report from the Human Rights Campaign says Lake Charles did not fare well when it came protecting the LGBTQ community.

In 2012, the foundation decided to take a closer look at cities throughout the nation and how they protect members of the LGBTQ community.

"What we want to do with this measure is allow city residents to know what protections exist on the local level and what protections they can avail themselves to should they need it," HRC Legislative Counsel Xavier Persad said.

MEI rates cities on 49 different criteria, including services and programs, law enforcement, relationship between the community and the city as an employer.

“Until we are rid of this patchwork on discrimination protections across the country, we are encouraged to see cities across the country leading the way on LGBTQ equality,” Persad said.

Justin DeWitt grew up in in Sulphur and says growing up the community was un-accepting of the LGBTQ community.

“Things have turned around a lot in Louisiana since then;” DeWitt said,“Less hatred, less anti-LGBTQ, a lot more acceptance within the state.”

However, the MEI report for Lake Charles says otherwise. In 2015 Lake Charles received a 6. That score remained for years to follow until the 2018 report of a zero.

The city public information officer Katie Harrington released a statement saying quote "The recently released 2018 MEI scorecard does not accurately reflect the city's position and commitment to being a welcoming and inclusive community and workplace."

“As in previous years, the City of Lake Charles has not actively participated in the Human Rights Campaign Foundation MEI. The recently released 2018 MEI Scorecard does not accurately reflect the City’s position and commitment to being a welcoming and inclusive community and workplace. 

The City of Lake Charles offers protection from harassment and hostile work environments to all employees through strict standards set forth in the adopted personnel policy manual and makes considerable investments in community programming that is inclusive of all residents and visitors.  

The City of Lake Charles is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer and complies with all federal, state and local equal opportunity laws prohibiting discrimination against employees and applicants for employment, and provides equal employment opportunities to all employees and applicants for employment without regard to race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, age, disability, genetic information, marital status, amnesty or status as a covered veteran in accordance with applicable federal, state and local laws.”

According to the study, the state does not have non-discrimination laws on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity for employment, housing, or public accommodations.

“You can tell your pastor, you could tell whoever you want and you can air it out on Facebook, but it’s going to fall on deaf ears because it’s been an ignored issue,” DeWitt said.

The only way to improve the cities score, is pass city ordinances.

"Lake Charles, a lot of cities are fighting for fairness ordinances and to have opposition to that is quite astounding," DeWitt said.

In Louisiana, New Orleans was the highest ranked city with a score of 97. Shreveport came in second at 77, and Baton Rouge came in third with a score of 36.

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