A report on LGBTQ equality gave Topeka a score of 37, which falls below the national average of 58.
The analysis was published by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation and measures LGBTQ rights in municipal law and policy.
Topeka received zero out of 30 points on its non-discrimination laws but fared better in the categories of municipality as employer, municipal services, law enforcement and leadership.
Dan Brennan, executive director of the Capital City Equality Center, said there are several steps the city could take to improve the score, with the most effective being passage of a non-discrimination ordinance that would lay out protections for the LGBTQ community. He also encouraged Shawnee County to take the same action.
In terms of municipal services, Brennan said he would like to see increased efforts aimed at LGBTQ youths, homelessness and HIV/AIDS services.
The national average on the index was 58 points. The Human Rights Campaign Foundation said legal protections and benefits vary widely depending on location.
The report included nine Kansas cities, with the state’s average coming to 41. The scores included: Manhattan, 73; Lawrence, 62; Kansas City, 55; Emporia, 33; Overland Park, 32; Hutchinson, 31; Olathe, 28; and Wichita, 22.
“Forward-looking leaders across the U.S. are stepping up, protecting their youth from so-called ‘conversion therapy,’ increasing anti-bullying protections, ensuring transgender city employees have access to inclusive health care benefits and protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination in all areas of life,” said HRC president Chad Griffin.
Since the index debuted in 2012, the number of cities earning perfect scores has increased more than sevenfold, HRC said, adding that the organization has seen marked progress on transgender equality.