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Lasell Student Works to Mobilize Change in FDA Blood Drive Rules

July 8, 2014

Lasell sophomore Jay Franzone's summer has been a lesson in grassroots activism.

Franzone has volunteered his time to publicize and support a National Gay Blood Drive in more than 60 cities across the nation on July 11. Franzone serves as the Director of Social Media and Political Outreach for the grassroots group that organized the drive.

Since 1983, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has banned gay and bisexual men from donating blood. The ban was implemented during the height of the AIDS crisis in the United States.

The group's founder, Ryan James Yezak, says the policy is outdated, and as a result, otherwise eligible gay and bisexual men are unable to contribute to the nation's blood supply.

Franzone met Yezak during a trip to rally at the Supreme Court in March 2013 during testimony of United States v. Windsor - the 2013 case regarding the unconstitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act.

"We met and clicked instantly. He is a wonderful mentor," says Franzone.

Organizers are also collecting signatures for a White House petition to change the FDA ban. The FDA ban only applies to men: women who identify as lesbian or bisexual are still allowed to donate.

Boston's Gay Blood Drive will take place on Friday, July 11 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Boston City Hill, Hearing Room 801.


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