23 May, 2005

More on gay blood

When I posted that the Red Cross would rather promote discrimination than condoms, I didn't realize that two years earlier, a the University of Vermont requested the Red Cross change or leave. A smart, concise editorial on the topic was published at the University of Connecticut in 2004. There was a resolution against the Red Cross at the University of New Hampshire back in February of this year. Representing Massachusetts, Harvard has had a little campus tempest on the topic. (It led to this hilarious editorial from Ladies against Women.) Leaving just Rhode Island behind in the all-New England pro-gay rally, just recently in April (on the anniversary of the "shot heard round the world," of the Waco massacre, and of the Oklahoma City bombing) the University of Maine made the Red Cross instituta non grata* for their homophobic policies. I guess I was just channeling the good people of Orono.
A resolution was passed Friday by the UM Student Government Inc., urging student organizations to "end blood drives with the American Red Cross, and instead hold drives with blood collection organizations in support of striking down the ban against blood donations from gay and bisexual men."

...Although all licensed blood donation organizations must comply with the FDA regulation, student leaders who support the resolution say that the Red Cross isn't as willing as some to recognize the discriminatory nature of the policy.
This article by the Red Cross explains the current ban. As does this overly polite piece by the formerly fire-breathing giants at Gay Men's Health Crisis. It makes some sense, but it doesn't answer some important questions. Why ask about gay sex, instead of unsafe sex? Why ban gay men but not African-American women, who are also a very high-risk group? I think the answers are political, not epidemiological. It would be racist to ban African-American women; racism is less socially acceptable than homophobia. And what if nurses had to ask if people have had unprotected anal sex, rather than asking if they've had sex with a man? That wouldn't go well with the Washington theocracy's ideas about safe sex, which are basically to pretend that abstinence is the only answer.

Asking about safe sex would keep the blood supply safer than the current method, would provide a small dose of safe sex education, and would allow responsible safe-sex-practicing homos to take part in the communal ritual we call blood donation.

Finally, if you feel like doing something, LGBT Campus.org has some action ideas. Have fun, kiddies!

*Pardon the made-up Latin. Gender and case corrections are welcome.

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