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LGBT Attitudes Vary Throughout Georgia

Athens is among the cities included in a national LGBT survey.
Athens is among the cities included in a national LGBT survey.
Credit / University of Georgia

Georgia scored  a 39 out of a possible 100 in the second annual Municipal Equality Index report from the Human Rights Campaign.

That ranking comes despite a perfect 100 score from Atlanta.

Decatur is among the six other Georgia cities involved in the national survey.

It scored a 27.

“As a community that is welcoming and active with the (Lesbian, Gay Bisexual and Transgender) community, I don’t know that the score reflects our actual things that we do on a day-to-day basis,” says Decatur City Manager Peggy Merriss.

The HRC says dozens of standards were used to determine rankings, and that the numbers aren’t totally reflective of an area.

“There are going to be some places that are going to have low scores and yet may be wonderful places for people to live,” says Cathryn Oakley, with the HRC, and the author of this report.

An audio version of this story.

One factor used in the survey is having an LGBT official in government.  That is something that is tough for Decatur, which has a population of about 20,000.

“We don’t have mayor’s liaisons to anything.  He shares a desk with the four other city commissioners and when they come in, they have a desk and a phone they can use.  The mayor doesn’t even have an office,” says Merriss.

Athens, home to the University of Georgia, earned a 44 in the report.

“Do I think that 100 translates into ‘Everyone should flock here, if you’re queer.’  No, because I think it’s much more nuanced and textured than, you know, a rating that one may give,” says Jon Hurst, the director of UGA’s LGBT Resource Center.

Hurst also says the data needs to be taken in stride.

“I think this is great as a tool, but there’s a bigger story here and that’s there are some real issues around equality and equity and justice here in the state of Georgia.”

The other Georgia cities in the survey were Avondale Estates, Augusta-Richmond, Columbus and North Druid Hills.

Of those, Avondale Estates had the highest ranking with a score of 56.