CONTRIBUTED BY THE RED CROSS CLUB
According to the American Red Cross, someone in the United States needs blood donated to them every two seconds, and one blood donation has the potential to save three lives.
Although the need is high, a significant proportion of the U.S. population is ineligible to donate life-saving blood due to a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) law that states that sexually active gay men can not donate blood.
According to co-presidents senior Ally Maiella and senior Emily Lew, The Red Cross club opposes this law, and has worked to raise awareness of this issue as they planned their own blood drive, which occured on Friday, May 4. In addition to hosting their annual blood drive, the club also fundraises for the American Red Cross, which provides food, water, shelter, disaster relief and first aid to people in need.
According to Maiella, the club sprang to action when they heard about the rule from the American Red Cross organization.
“We actually want to directly oppose the fact that they are not allowed to give blood, because it really makes no sense, especially because all the research behind it is so outdated.”
The rule itself originated during the HIV crisis as a way to contain the spread of the disease, and it originally stated that a man who has had sex with another man can never donate blood. More recently, the FDA changed the law to state that men who have had sex with men in the past 12 months are not eligible to donate blood.
Senior Emily Lew, another co-president of the club, believes that the ruling was made due to prejudice against gay men.
“I think obviously it was created out of hatred and homophobia, and it has remained due to the same reason,” Lew said.
Individuals who have certain diseases such as leukemia or lymphoma, who have used intravenous drugs not prescribed by physicians or who have received blood transfusions in France or the United Kingdom since 1980 are also ineligible to donate blood, among others. Yet there are no other clauses regarding an individual’s sexuality.
The club wrote a petition against the ruling, which was available for people at the high school registering to give blood to sign, as well as contacting lawmakers about the law.
According to club advisor Richard Gorman, the club met with representatives from the blood donation division of the American Red Cross.
“We asked them specifically about that question, and they said they were not in favor of the decision, but it’s an FDA issue,” Gorman said. “The students at the club have been very proactive in trying to change that rule, and that has led them to communicate with people at the high school and also get in touch with some of the senators and legislators in Massachusetts about changing the FDA law.”
Although the club would eventually like to see the law repealed, their main priority at the moment is to raise awareness of the biased origin of the law and the negative impact it has.
“Ultimately we are hoping that it gets changed,” Maiella said. “But right now we’re just trying to raise awareness that this is still something that’s going on and also get people to understand that it’s prohibiting this entire population of people from doing something good.”