South Carolina

When it comes to LGBTQ equality, only 2 SC cities meet national average, study says

2016 SC Pride Parade and Festival

Scenes from the SC Pride Parade and Festival in Columbia on Sept. 3, 2016.
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Scenes from the SC Pride Parade and Festival in Columbia on Sept. 3, 2016.

During a survey of major South Carolina cities, only two ranked average or above average for LGBTQ equality, according to a new study from advocacy group the Human Rights Campaign.

Columbia and Charleston were the only Palmetto State cities to score above the national average on the study, which examines local laws and policies geared at protecting and supporting people identifying as LGBTQ during 2017, according to a Human Rights Campaign statement.

On the other hand, Greenville, Mount Pleasant, Myrtle Beach, North Charleston, Rock Hill and Clemson all scored well below average, with Clemson even collecting 0 points, according to the study.

Columbia scored a 71 out of 100, which far exceeds the national average of 58, according to the statement. The city scored full points for housing and public accommodations protections, but missing points in the employment category.

Richland County was also graded, but it only was awarded points for public accommodations protections, according to the study.

Columbia law enforcement was given a perfect score for having an LGBTQ liaison or task force and reporting their hate crimes statistics to the FBI, according to the study.

Officials in Columbia also scored high, securing 7 out of 8 points for pro-equality legislative or policy efforts and their public position on equality, according to the study. They were only awarded 17 out of 28 points for their work employing and offering inclusive benefits for LGBTQ identifying individuals.

Charleston was the only South Carolina city to outscore Columbia, beating the capital city by one point.

Overall, Charleston ranked the same in housing and public accommodations protections, municipal services, leadership and law enforcement, according to the study. The city was awarded bonus points, though, for instituting a youth bullying prevention policy for city services.

In the upper part of the state, Rock Hill scored a 17 out of 100, according to the study. The only points awarded to the area were for reporting hate crime statistics and the county’s human rights commission.

Myrtle Beach barely scored higher, finishing with 21 points for the city’s human rights commission, reporting hate crime statistics and partial points for leadership’s public position on LGBTQ equality and policy efforts.

Here’s how South Carolina’s Cities scored:

  • Charleston: 72
  • Clemson: 0
  • Columbia: 71
  • Greenville: 20
  • Mount Pleasant: 12
  • Myrtle Beach: 21
  • North Charleston: 33
  • Rock Hill: 17
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