EVANSVILLE, IN (WFIE) - Nearly 6,000 petitions and letters, some from Tri-State residents, are now in the hands of Governor-elect Eric Holcomb demanding that sexual orientation and gender identity be added to the state's civil right's code.
Local organizers are hoping the incoming governor will make this a priority during the next legislative session, especially after they believe Evansville didn't fair too well in a new LGBT inclusion survey.
Some local residents say they hope those protections are introduced in January and that a hearing is set so they can plead their case. One reason is a new survey, conducted by the Human Rights Campaign, shows Evansville scored 54 out of 100 points when it comes to LGBT issues.
Wally Paynter with Tri-State Alliance says several factors were taken into account including how we treat gay residents and how we deal with bullying. Paynter says schools are still an unfriendly place for gay youth, especially transgender youth.
He's hoping county officials will take note of Evansville's ranking and add sexual orientation and gender identity protections to its civil right's ordinance, much like the city did several years ago.
He says another issue is city funding to organizations, much of which was cut from the city's budget.
"So they're not funding service to LGBT seniors, students, LGBT homeless people, etc," said Paynter. "That does impact our percentage rating, but certainly the city can help us build some partnerships to address these issues. Since I'm getting older, how we treat LGBT seniors is a big concern and really how we treat youth. It's a hostile environment here and that's not the way it should be."
Evansville did not even rank in the top 5 on the survey.
Cities like Indianapolis, South Bend, and Muncie ranked higher. Bloomington, home to Indiana University, got a perfect score at 100-percent.