Jonathan Law High School students picketed the local
American Red Cross chapter in Milford, Conn., on Monday
afternoon, protesting the organization's ban on blood
donations from openly gay and bisexual men, the
Connecticut Post reported. The protest was
aimed at drawing attention to a Red Cross policy that
barred Law sophomore Justin Bell from donating blood in the
blood drive scheduled last Thursday at the high
that read "Blood Is Blood" and "Gay Blood Is Just Like
Yours," the students said the Red Cross discriminates
because if a male student admits he is gay and sexually
active, his blood won't be drawn.
against the Red Cross because they won't let gay men
give blood," 16-year-old Kaitlyn Walsh said as she raised a
sign that read "Gays Have Blood Too," the
Connecticut Post reported.
Bell joined the
students as they stood on the sidewalk in front of the
Red Cross's Milford chapter office. He said the protest
was intended to raise awareness of civil rights issues
facing gay and bisexual teens. Bell said questions
asked about sexual activity before a donor gives blood
were discriminatory. "A gay man could have the cleanest
blood in our school and some girl could have really
dirty blood, and they would take hers," Bell said.
The head of blood
services for the Connecticut Red Cross, Paul Sullivan,
said his agency follows federal Food and Drug
Administration's screening guidelines. Sullivan said
collected blood is tested for viruses, and that the
questions concerning sexual activity are safety measures
designed to protect against someone who might have
recently become infected and doesn't know it. "Any
test has its inherent limitations," he told the
argued that since all blood gets screened before being used
by the Red Cross, it shouldn't matter whose blood is taken.
Sullivan said the policy of excluding gay men from
giving blood has been in place since the mid 1980s
because of concern over HIV.
standpoint, it's a public-health issue, not a social policy
issue," he said.
said safety measures are important to the Red Cross in
order to have a clean blood supply. "They provide a very
necessary service," state senator Gayle Slossberg told
the Connecticut Post. "It's in everybody's best
that because HIV no longer limited to the gay population
and there is a pressing need for donated blood, the FDA
should consider updating its policies. "With the
greater need for blood, we should look at our
policies," she said. (The Advocate)
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