Two North Carolina teenagers are petitioning the Food and Drug Administration to treat gay men the same as heterosexuals when donating blood.
Last month, the FDA proposed new rules that would roll back the lifetime ban on blood donations from gay and bisexual men, acknowledging that the policy is perceived by some as discriminatory.
But the teens — Brianna Culler, 16, and Travis Massey, 17 — said the new rule not only discriminates against gay men but some women as well.
The rules would allow men to donate only if they’ve abstained from sexual activity with another man for the past 12 months. If a woman has had sex with a man who has had sex with another man in the last 12 months, she would also be prevented from donating under the new rules.
Culler started the petition, known as Care2, on behalf of Massey, who was refused the right to donate blood at their school annual blood drive for having had sexual contact with another man in the past year.
“I felt unequal when it happened,” Massey said in a news release. “I’m just as likely as anyone else to have HIV or an STD, so I thought it was unfair.”
The petition, which has garnered more than 11,000 signatures, asked the FDA to lift all restrictions on blood donations from gay and bisexual men. The ban was originally enacted during the national AIDS epidemic in 1983 and last updated in 1992. Since then, mounds of scientific evidence has shown that blood donations from gay men pose no greater risk of spreading AIDS than the general public if properly screened.
The Care2 petition will be submitted to FDA before the public comment period closes on July 14.