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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

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Our Lives Wisconsin announces creation of digital archive

‘Wisconsin First’ project creates accessible resources for students our lives communications says
Our+Lives+Wisconsin+announces+creation+of+digital+archive
Kennedy Slater

Our Lives Wisconsin announced a new project Feb. 25 titled “Wisconsin First,” according to a press release from the organization. The project commemorates the 1982 enactment of Assembly Bill 70, which prohibited discrimination against gay and lesbian people in various domains such as housing, employment, credit and public accommodation, according to the press release.

Our Lives Wisconsin has convened a project team tasked with investigating, gathering and digitizing pertinent source materials related to the Wisconsin bill and similar legislation replicated in other states, according to the press release. The project will create an interactive online archive accessible to researchers, students, teachers, lawmakers and historians at no cost, according to the press release.

Further, the project will detail Wisconsin’s history with LBGTQ+ activism, communications manager for the project Michail Takach said.

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“The Wisconsin First project is an effort to create a cohesive, collaborative and accessible archive that tells the story about how Wisconsin became the first state in the nation to pass a statewide non-discrimination law protecting gay and lesbian people,” Takach said.

The project will strengthen a collective and institutional memory for the future of Wisconsin and LGBTQ+ progress, according to the press release.

Our Lives Wisconsin hopes the archive will be used by students, researchers and educators to further their understanding of Wisconsin’s LGBTQ+ community, and to foster a deeper sense of equality, Takach said.

“It is important to understand that there is still lots of progress to be made,” Takach said. “The 1982 Wisconsin AB 70 does not offer any protections for transgender people. The Wisconsin First project will create very visible, modern and accessible resources for students to learn about the state’s heritage in this space.”

The University of Wisconsin has a rich and evolving history regarding LGBTQ+ rights and advocacy on its campus, UW history professor Finn Enke said. Over time, LGBTQ+ activism on the UW campus has continued to grow and evolve, Enke said.

“Students have by far done the most to help educate the Madison community on queer rights and history,” Enke said.

The establishment of the Gender and Sexuality Campus Center in 1992 provided a dedicated space for LGBTQ+ students, faculty and staff to gather, seek support and organize, according to the GSCC website. The center has been instrumental in providing resources, hosting educational programs and advocating for LGBTQ+ inclusion and equality on campus, according to the GSCC website.

Today, UW remains committed to fostering a campus environment that is inclusive, welcoming and supportive of all members of the LGBTQ+ community, according to the GSCC website.

Additionally, the UW campus has many other resources available to students, including weekly film viewings through the gender and sexuality center, Enke said.

Beyond these resources available to the students, the Wisconsin First project hopes to further educate the UW community about the deep history of LGBTQ+ rights in Wisconsin, according to the Our Lives Wisconsin website.

To shine a light on the state’s progressive past, Our Lives Wisconsin hopes the Wisconsin First project captures the remarkable story of LGBTQ+ history that the UW can utilize for years to come, according to the Our Lives Wisconsin website.

“Wisconsin, at one point, was known for its progressive past, leading the nation for decades,” Enke said. “This is widely no longer believed to be true. More recent administrations have eroded the progressive reputation Wisconsin once had.”

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