Iowa City recognized as one of the most safe, inclusive spaces for LGBTQ+ individuals

The city received a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index, which highlights a city’s efforts in being a safe and inclusive space for LGBTQ+ individuals. Some UI students say the city and the university could be doing more.


Gabby Drees

Participants chant throughout downtown Iowa City during a unity march as part of the Iowa City Pride Festival on Saturday, June 18, 2022. This year’s marks the 51st Pride Festival held by Iowa City.

Kufre Ituk, News Reporter

Iowa City recently received a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index, which determines how safe and inclusive cities are for LGBTQ+ individuals. However, some residents think the city and the University of Iowa could do more for the LGBTQ+ community. 

The index rates 506 cities from every U.S. state on 49 criteria, including non-discrimination laws, inclusivity in the workplace, municipal services, law enforcement, municipal leadership, and its position on LGBTQ+ equality.

Iowa City scored a 100, with an additional 12 flex points for extra criteria that are not available to other cities at this time. The city earned flex points in youth bullying prevention services, services for LGBTQ+ youth and older adults, services to people living with HIV or AIDS, services for the transgender community, and having openly LGBTQ+ city leaders.  

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Emmaly Fields, a third-year student and one of the UI Pride Alliance Center’s programming assistants, said the center is fortunate to have these spaces for students but wants the university to do more.

“I wish that the university would help promote those spaces a little bit more so other people know that they have a place to feel safe with their identities and be themselves,” Fields said.

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The UI provides several resources for LGBTQ+ students, including TransVerse, a support group for the UI trans community and allies; the Iowa City LGBTQ Meetup, a group of local Iowa City members who get together for different activities; and the Queer Health Advocacy group.

Logan Shoviak, fourth-year student and programming assistant at the Pride Alliance Center, said he is appreciative of the campus resources but believes it could always be better.

“I think that [the UI] is better than most places because of the cultural centers we have,” Shoviak said. “I don’t think it’s completely perfect.”

Shoviak said the university does not offer an adequate number of gender-neutral bathrooms. 

Over 50 buildings at the UI have gender-inclusive restrooms, according to the UI’s Trans@Iowa website.

Shoviak also said they feel there are issues surrounding speakers at the UI going against the university’s mission, including a recent Young Americans Fellowship event on Nov. 30 where Allen West, an American politician and former military officer, was allowed to present a lecture that discouraged diversity, equity, and inclusivity measures on campus. 

“DEI includes a bunch of different minority identities. I understand not being able to be partisan; that’s not what I’m asking the university to do. But when there’s an event very clearly going against the university’s policy that the university prides itself on, why are they allowing it to happen and allowing them to advertise it?” Shoviak said.   

The UI also has the All In LLC, a living learning community in Stanley Hall focused on connecting and supporting the university’s LGBTQ+ students that live on campus.

Estella Ruhrer-Johnson, a first-year student living in the All In LLC, said there are resources for LGBTQ+ individuals if they look for them. 

 “I never get an email about things that are happening,” Ruhrer-Johnson said. “You have to look on your own.” 

Rena Bratvold, who also lives in the LLC, said their time on campus has been great so far. 

“Personally, in my experience, it’s been very welcoming, and I haven’t had any issues,” Bratvold said.