Twitter Bans Blood Donation Drives At Its Offices Until FDA Lifts Discriminatory Gay Ban

Twitter has stopped hosting blood drives at their headquarters until the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) lifts an antiquated ban that prevents healthy gay and bisexual employees from donating blood.

Brian Schipper, the social media giant’s Vice President of Human Resources, told The International Business Times (IBT) that they decided to stop hosting blood drives after an employee of the company was turned away from donating due to their sexuality.

Mr Schipper told IBT “We made the choice to take a company stand against some of our employees being turned away from donating blood and will channel our efforts into education about this issue until this unnecessary and discriminatory policy is changed.”

Since 1983, the FDA put in place the blood ban in response to the nation community’s AIDS crises in the 1980s, but more recently, that policy has come under growing criticism for being unnecessary and discriminatory.

Jim Halloran, Twitter’s global content manager, singled out what he viewed as the specific flaw with the FDA’s current discriminatory policy.

“These are the only policies that the FDA has based on a person’s identification and not any type of risky behavior that they’re engaged in,” he said.

“Twitter took a very bold stance.”

IBT adds:

Twitter shared the news after being named one of the “Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality” by the Human Rights Campaign on Wednesday, an indication that could help the company in recruiting talented candidates from the LGBT community. Besides boycotting blood drives, Twitter has also filed a public comment with the FDA. TwitterOpen has also promoted a petition to “stop discriminating and screen male blood donors equally.”

Though the FDA proposed altering the lifetime ban to allow gay and bisexual men who have abstained from sex with another men for at least 12 months to donate blood, Twitter plans to continue boycotting until the restriction is completely removed and replaced by one determined by risky behavior not sexual identity.

“We strongly urge the FDA to reconsider this draft rule, remove the restrictions on donations from MSM [men who have sex with men], and redraft safety regulations that are based on legitimate behavioral risk factors,” said Colin Crowell, Twitter’s Vice President of Global Policy, in a letter submitted to the FDA in July.