The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) - in partnership with Equality Federation - recently released their annual Municipal Equality Index (MEI); this year, eight New Mexico cities are scored. This is double the number of cities scored in prior years - a change made at the request of Equality New Mexico to include cities outside of the I-25 corridor.

While not the ultimate litmus test for how welcoming New Mexico cities are for LGBT community members, the MEI highlights where local policy gains can be made to better protect LGBT New Mexicans. For instance, while LGBT nondiscrimination protections have been in place for over 13 years in New Mexico, not all cities have ensured their municipal policies and procedures reflect these protections. Additionally, there are opportunities to improve MEI scores with simple changes such as having an LGBT community liaison in the city's police department and sending hate crime statistics to the FBI on an annual basis.

Another important measure for improvement in New Mexico is having enumerated bullying prevention policies in the schools that are inclusive of gender identity. This is one of the main goals of the New Mexico Safe Schools for All Students Act, introduced by EQNM and Senator Bill Soules (D-Doña Ana) in 2015, and which will be re-introduced in 2017 legislative session. More than 80 percent of New Mexico school district bullying prevention policies are out of compliance with federal and state policy, and one of those reasons is that they do not enumerate gender identity as a protected class.

Read the scorecards: