CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) – “I think it’s important for us to show how we can accommodate people from anywhere,” said Kris Koester, LGBTQ + liaison officer for the city of Champaign.

This is why a city strives to improve its policies to be more inclusive. A city in central Illinois is recognized for changing its policies and services to bring more equality to every person.

“We continue to find ways to be more inclusive and welcoming to people from all walks of life, but especially to this LGBTQ community,” Koester said.

This is why the city of Champaign is recognized by a national foundation for its inclusive policies for the LGBTQ + community.

“It’s good to continue to be recognized because it means we keep moving forward, we continue to be welcoming, we continue to be open and assertive to those who are a part of this community,” Koester said.

The city has been honored by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. The foundation released its 10th annual Municipal Equality Index, or MEI, ranking Champaign as the second highest-rated municipality in Illinois. They rank cities based on non-discrimination laws, law enforcement, LGBTQ + equality leadership and more. The score rose to 94, a ten point difference from 2020.

“We have come a long way to be open and inclusive and that means something to elected officials, it means something to those who live in this community because everyone knows someone who is probably part of LGBTQ communities,” Koester said.

People in the community appreciate the city’s efforts.

“Research shows that structural and ideological support for LGBTQ people, like putting in place these affirmative policies, helps the community to perceive its climate, to perceive this community as more favorable towards them and if you feel more positive towards them. supported, you’re probably going to invest more in that community, ”said Jaz Routon, Uniting Pride Center for Champaign County.

LGBTQ + advocates, like the Champaign County Uniting Pride Center, are happy to see a city strive to create an inclusive space for everyone, but they say there is still work to be done.

“It’s a great thing to celebrate,” said Routon. “The score is great, but there is also so much work to be done and so much work specifically related to advocacy, education, resources, support and ways to address the existing stigma that is still in the community. local.”

Mayor Deb Feinen also said the review helps them improve and revise policies.

The 10th Annual Municipal Equality Index analyzed 506 US cities using 49 different criteria. This year’s MEI included ratings from nine Illinois municipalities, including Chicago, which was ranked first in the state. The average score for most US cities this year was 67. For more information, see the link below.

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