SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — June 1 marks the start of Pride Month across the globe and with it comes the Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC) annual equality index scorecard. While surrounding cities like Sioux City, Minneapolis, and Omaha scored high, only one city in South Dakota had a perfect score.
Once again, Brookings, South Dakota received a score of 100 on the HRC’s scorecard. The only area that didn’t receive full marks was an inclusive workplace for the municipality, but other areas of “flex” points bumped the city up to a perfect score.
Sioux Falls dropped from a score of 62 in 2020 to 52 in 2021. The drop in points is due to the scorecard indicating that Sioux Falls does not have a LGBTQ liaison or task force in the police departments.
But officer Sam Clemens with the Sioux Falls Police Department (SFPD) said that the department has a Community Ambassador Program to engage community members of diverse racial, ethnic, religious, and other backgrounds. That includes two ambassadors for the LGBTQ community as well as three officers that work with community members.
“I’d say their representation of our department is not accurate,” Clemens said.
Matt Neufeld, president of Sioux Falls Pride, told KELOLAND News that the organization has worked closely with SFPD over the years and has received nothing but support from the department as well as members of the City Council. But that support has not extended to the mayor’s office in the same way.
“I’m seeing improvements, I just wish there were more. It would be really nice to know from our leaders that we are part of this community, and we are part of One Sioux Falls,” Neufeld said.
Neufeld said that Mayor Paul TenHaken declined to attend Pride celebrations this year due to the Father’s Day holiday.
Vermillion scored a 52 on the equality index and showed better advocacy and legislative policy efforts compared to the 2020 report. But the city’s lack of a LGBTQ liaison in the city executive offices kept their points low.
Watertown is the fourth-best ranked South Dakota city landing a score of 29 out of 100. According to the report, the city does well in non-discrimination ordinances for city employment, has a human rights commission, and reports hate crime statistics to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
Both Vermillion and Watertown are smaller communities with growing Pride festivities according to Neufeld. Throughout the month of June, Neufeld said Sioux Falls Pride will attempt to travel to all of the South Dakota Pride celebrations across the state to show support.
Across the river in Rapid City, the city scored a 19 for their human rights commission, non-discrimination ordinance enforcement, and reporting of hate crime statistics to the FBI. In Spearfish, the score was significantly less at just 7 out of 100. That’s a drop from 19 the year prior.
Mitchell received a score of 12 due to their reporting of hate crimes to the FBI but received a zero in every other category.
Pierre was the only South Dakota city on the list to receive a score of zero.