Twitter has announced it will end its participation in blood drives over the FDA’s discriminatory policy banning most MSM (men who have sex with men) from donating blood.
Twitter’s decision came after one of its gay employees was turned away from a blood drive happening at Twitter’s corporate office.
“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,” said Jim Halloran, Twitter’s Associate Manager of Sales Operations and President of TwitterOpen, Twitter’s LGBT employee resource group. “Twitter took a very bold stance.”
Twitter decided to take a stand against this policy after a gay employee was turned away from a blood drive being held at its headquarters. That employee filed a complaint with human resources and Twitter decided to no longer host blood drives onsite after April 2015, the company told the International Business Times on Wednesday.
“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,” said Brian “Skip” Schipper, Twitter’s Vice President of Human Resources and the Executive Sponsor of TwitterOpen.
Earlier this year, the FDA lifted its lifelong ban on blood donations from MSM. However, it then instated a rule that MSM can only donate blood if they have not had sex with another man in the last year. In a letter submitted to the FDA in July, Twitter “strongly urge[d] the FDA to reconsider this draft rule”, which leading medical experts agree is unecessary and discriminatory.
HRC also weighed in on Twitter’s decision:
“We want our blood supply to be safe, and the good news is that the science shows we can have a safe blood supply without having a discriminatory policy,” said David Stacy, government affairs director at Human Rights Campaign. “The terrible thing is when a gay man goes to give blood and suddenly is told ‘We’re not accepting your blood.’ That can be really hurtful.”
Stacy said that to his knowledge, Twitter is the only public tech company to publicly take a stand against the FDA’s policy. Having a major company like Twitter boycott the FDA’s practices is helpful, as it draws attention to the issue.
“There are times when there is a shortage of blood and it is very important that people who can donate [do] donate,” Stacy said. “But right now in the U.S., there is an ample supply of blood, so people taking a stance makes sense.”