The Human Rights campaign and the Equality Federation Institute recently released their annual state Equality Index, a report that categorizes states according to how well they ensure equality for the LGBTQ population.
According to their index, Montana is one of 28 states where people who identify as or associate loosely with the LGBTQ community are at risk of discrimination.
Great Falls LGBTQ Center president Jasmine Taylor feels that equality is an issue both state and city-wide: "I think we experience more prejudice here than in other areas of the state and I think that’s part of the reason that we need to exist and we continue to try to increase our visibility."
The Center has increased efforts to improve their visibility, like moving to the Paris Gibson Square Museum of Art.
Taylor explained, "We made a big move over to the Paris Gibson Square Museum last year, which I think has helped with inclusivity and just visibility within our community."
The Center hosts events throughout the year to promote unity in the community.
“I think the more that we come together, have social events, have educational forums, you’ll see that this is already our community. Our community already reflects this diversity, and you’re probably more comfortable with it than you think,” Taylor said.
Taylor encourages anyone to come, whether you identify as a member or ally of the community or simply have questions for them.
“We’re always more than happy to meet new people in our community. I think the biggest thing is just meeting your neighbors. You probably already know someone that is queer or transgender and they may not have shared that part of their life with you,” Taylor said.
One of the Center's upcoming events is scheduled for Friday, February 14. the "Love Is Love Boat" gala is a cruise-themed event to help unite the LGBTQ and supporting communities, so no one feels the need to "abandon ship."
The event will begin at 6:30 p.m. at the Black Eagle Community Center.
The Equality Federation Institute website has more information, including this overview, about the Equality Index: