Statement from UHS Director, Jake Baggot:
On Monday, UW-Madison’s Public History Project will release a blog post written by History graduate student Ezra Gerard. It is titled Gay Purge: The Persecution of Homosexual Students at the University of Wisconsin, Madison 1962-1963 (attached) and details the history of the second “gay purge” at UW-Madison. This topic is one of the lesser known histories to the university community as a whole. Our community partners in the LGBTQ+ Archive at Steenbock and in the GSCC are supportive of the blog post and are hopeful that its publication can bring more awareness to campus. Please note: all students who were persecuted have been given pseudonyms to protect their identities. We have also adjusted the citations to protect their anonymity.
No student should ever experience anything like the heinous treatment documented in this article – least of all from medical professionals whose mission is to promote health and wellbeing.
We fully acknowledge this history, and we wholeheartedly disavow and apologize for the actions taken by University Health Services that caused so much damage to members of the LGBTQ+ community.
We cannot begin to imagine the lasting impact of these policies and practices – not only the students and the lives they hoped to live but also their families and loved ones. The valued relationship of trust between patient and medical and mental health provider was exterminated by unsound rules and regulations motivated by prejudice. The legacy of distrust remains with us today and we must continue to work to overcome it.
We proudly support all students and campus community members completely as they are and wish to be. We celebrate being LGBTQIA+ as a rich part of a person’s identity. Our clinical practices have changed, and we continue to educate ourselves and remove barriers to help all students live their fullest lives. We continue to work daily against hate and bias and for students’ rights and the value of their identities.
In recent years, we’ve established a Trans work group, comprised of medical and mental health providers, partners with the Gender and Sexuality Campus Center, and other UHS staff to continue to update policies to help students remove any obstacles. We offer PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis counseling) for those who seek it. We instituted preferred names in health records, and offer access to gender-affirming hormones through informed consent. Our Mental Health Services offers counseling from LGBTQIA+-focused providers, in addition to group counseling sessions and affinity spaces.
As painful as it is to examine this history, we believe it is also part of the journey to creating a campus where everyone can reach their full potential. To our LGBTQIA+ community members, we see you, we’re here for you and we also want to hear from you as together we process the history shared here.