See Jamey Mentzer’s statement on the prejudicial blood ban below:
I work at the University of Pittsburgh’s Law School and decided to donate blood one day. They asked if I had been sexually active with another man within the last 12 months. My heart sank–as a happily married man in a monogamous relationship– the answer was yes. I informed the technician that I was married to a man and that my answer to that particular question was yes yet he said I still couldn’t donate. I asked if would have been okay if I had sex with a dozen different women in the past month and she told me that wouldn’t be a problem.
I knew it wasn’t her fault, but I was angry – and hurt. I felt rejected and that I was being treated like there was something wrong with me and my blood because of who I loved. And the fact that it was occurring where I worked which has always been a safe and affirming space made it that much more painful. I began thinking about the LGBTQ+ students in our school that would face the same result if they attempted to donate – and possibly experience the same feelings, so I decided to take action.
I contacted several LGBTQ+ affinity groups on campus to both inform them of my experience and to ask for their support in drafting language that could be posted at all future blood drives on campus to inform the university community of the current policies and to encourage change.
The work continues and now includes efforts by the American Red Cross, Vitalant, One Blood, and other organizations who recognize the pain these policies have caused our community and who wish to move toward an individual risk assessment as opposed to one that eliminates entire groups of people based on antiquated fears surrounding HIV/AIDS.
Jamey Mentzer is the Director of JD Advantage, Corporate, and Emerging Careers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. Jamey attended Westminster College where he received a B.A. in Education. After working for several years with agencies that serviced at-risk children and youth, Jamey attended the University of Akron School of Law where he obtained his J.D. Prior to joining PDO, Jamey practiced as a law clerk for the City of Akron Law Department, served as a student services counselor and academic advisor at Robert Morris University, and most recently worked in a business role with Cigna Behavioral Health.