The city of Rochester has been ranked in the top 25 percent of cities in the United States for inclusion of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, according to the 2012 Municipality Equality Index.
This annual report, published by the national LGBT equality organization the Human Rights Campaign, evaluated equality across six categories: non-discrimination laws, relationship recognition, employment practices, inclusiveness of city services, law enforcement and municipal leadership. Rochester earned 89 points out of 100, placing it in the top quarter of the 137 municipalities indexed. For many UR students, this ranking did not come as a shock.
“I’m not very surprised — the LGBT community here is very visible,” Rochester native and sophomore Sarah Brown said.
Pride Network Education Chair and sophomore Esteban Rodriguez echoed this sentiment.
“From serving as a springboard for the Gay Liberation Front to its long-standing LGBT culture, Rochester has been heavily invested in its LGBT community for many years,” he said.
Indeed, many students recognized the importance of UR’s presence in such a vibrant LGBT community. Some are hopeful that the ranking will compel UR students to learn more or become involved.
“This ranking could have an effect on the students here … by providing them with a very open and accepting community to understand what the [LGBT] community is,” Pride Network Social Chair and sophomore Clint Cantwell said. “For students [who] are a part of the [LGBT] community, it can provide them with a greater and deeper experience.”
Others believed that the ranking will encourage LGBT prospective students to consider UR when applying to college.
“As high school juniors and seniors seek out a university that fits their needs, many pay close attention to the surrounding community; this is a huge plus for LGBT students and allies,” Rodriguez said.
Pride Network President and sophomore Alex Montes agreed.
“I think the fact that Rochester is being named one of the top 25 percent most inclusive cities in America says a lot to prospective LGBT students [who] want a safe and comfortable home to spend their next four years in,” he said.
Some students thought that the high ranking could cause students to reevaluate their post-graduation plans. More may now consider remaining in Rochester after graduation because of the city’s inclusiveness.
“I will absolutely be taking into account Rochester’s high ranking in this area when I make post-grad plans,” Pride Network Business Manager and sophomore Margaret Speer said. “I am thrilled to see that the community to which I have such strong ties is welcoming of my lifestyle.”
Numerous students pointed out that it is important for UR to emulate the city in terms of LGBT inclusion, as most students spend a majority of their time on campus.
“I consider myself a student, but not necessarily a Rochesterian, so as a student, it is more important that my university is tolerant,” junior Deanna Thompson said. “I think that UR is very inclusive of the LGBT community.”
UR has earned compliments for its inclusiveness, though students do point to flaws as well. The most commonly cited complaints were the lack of an LGBT resource center on campus and a lack of awareness about LGBT issues by the general student body.
The Susan B. Anthony Institute (SBAI) hopes to address the latter issue during LGBT Awareness Month this April. SBAI was recently awarded a $2,000 grant from the Rochester Area Community Foundation’s LGBT Giving Circle. According to SBAI Program Manager Angela Clark-Taylor, the grant funding will support events such as the annual Rainbow Lecture and the Out for Reel Film Series.
Hansler is a member of the class of 2015.