AMA Opposes Lifetime Ban on Blood Donations from MSM

On June 18, 2013 at its annual meeting, the American Medical Association (AMA) voted to adopt a policy opposing the thirty year lifetime ban on blood donations from men who have sex with men (MSM). This recommendation was made to the Federal Drug Administration (FDA), the governing body that oversees issues the policy.

The ban was implemented thirty years ago before tests were available to screen for HIV or AIDS. The AMA holds the position now that the lifetime ban on blood donation from MSM is discriminatory since there are adequate methods to screen donated blood for HIV and AIDS. The American Medical Association (AMA) also noted its’ support for the “use of rational scientifically based deferral periods that are fairly and consistently apply to blood donors.”  One of example of such a guideline is the 12-month waiting period for individuals who have had sexual contact with someone who is HIV-positive.

In June 2010 the Department of Health and Human Services Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Blood Safety and Availability reconsidered the lifetime ban. While admitting that there were problems with the ban, they voted against lifting it. The Red Cross, the largest blood collection organization in the country, supported a lift on the ban in 2010 as well as presently.

If in the future the Federal Drug Administration decides to lift the ban they will follow a number of other countries who have done the same. In May of this year Canada lifted its lifetime ban on blood donations from MSM. However the new policy requires that MSM who wish to donate blood abstain from sexual contact with men for five years prior to the blood donation.

Other countries that have recently changed policies so that MSM may donate blood include the United Kingdom and Australia. Both of these countries require a 12 month period of abstinence. South Africa also recently lifted their ban on blood donation for MSM. However the period of abstinence is 6 months.

In recent years, several other countries have amended their blood donation policies to allow gay men to give blood, many of which use a smaller window of deferral for sexually active gay men than Canada has adopted. Both Australia and the U.K., for example, allow gay men who have abstained from sex with another man for one year to donate, while South Africa requires only a six-month period.

AMA Adopts Policy to Raise Awareness of New HIV Treatment Guidelines

American Medical Association (AMA) Adopts Policy to Raise Awareness of New HIV Treatment Guidelines

During the annual meeting of the American Medical Association (AMA) in June 2013, a new policy was approved to support programs that “raise physician awareness of early treatment options for individuals diagnosed with HIV.  Even though these guideline changes occurred earlier in the year, the AMA reported that they had not been widely publicized to physicians.

In February 2013, based on recent news studies that continue to confirm the effectiveness of antiretroviral therapy, the National Institute of Health (NIH) released new treatment guidelines for newly diagnosed HIV patients. Previously, antiretroviral therapy was not instituted until the individual’s CD4 cell or T-cell count dropped significantly below the normal range of 500 cells/ mm³ -1000 cells/ mm³ or transmission occurred. The new guidelines call for antiretroviral therapy to begin upon diagnosis for a better prognosis and to prevent the transmission of the HIV.

In June 2013, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued similar changes to world-wide treatment guidelines. Like the National Institute of Health, the WHO now recommends that individuals with CD4 cell counts at 500 cells/mm³ or less begin antiretroviral therapy. In previous years, antiretroviral therapy was not offered until the individual’s CD4 cell count had fallen to 350 cells/ mm³ or less. And in

At the end of 2012, close to 10 million people were receiving ART in low- and middle-income countries. However, over 16 million other people who are eligible for ART under new 2013 guidelines do not have access to antiretroviral drugs.

The modified guidelines for the World Health Organization treatment of HIV includes treatment for all children the age of five with the diagnosis, all HIV-positive women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, and HIV-positive individuals with sexual partners who are HIV-negative.

Recommendations about the best course of treatment have also been offered by the National Institute of Health (NIH) and the World Health Organization (WHO).  Studies suggest that Atripla sold by Bristol-Myers Squibb, the combination of three antiretroviral drugs (tenofovir, lamivudine, and efavirenz) as one pill taken once daily is the most effective treatment. This medication is also relatively cheap. So it is recommended by both the NIH and WHO. This medication is also recommended for individuals with HIV and active tuberculosis or hepatitis B.

However, one concern is that more than 16 million people who are not eligible for treatment this year until the new guidelines are still unable to afford the cost of this medication.

National HIV Testing Day Encourages Americans to Know Their Status

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Last week saw the observance of National HIV Testing Day on June 27, encouraging Americans to get tested and find out their status. A number of organizations nation-wide provided free tests. President Obama even released a public statement, saying that getting tested “opens the door to treatment, reduces the spread of the virus, and helps people lead longer, healthier lives.” Information about the disease constantly increases while test result waiting time decreases.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report that one in five Americans are HIV-positive and don’t realize they have the virus. That number increases to half when looking at people under the age of 24. The CDC also state that the virus is still impacting populations very differently: black Americans are eight times more likely to have the disease, Americans living below the poverty line are six-times, and men who have sex with men (MSM) account for nearly two-thirds of all new cases.

These statistics at home are worrisome because of so many public awareness campaigns. The United Nations declared late last year that because of a global response and solidarity in combating the epidemic the end to the disease and its toll on human life was feasible, but the prevalence of new cases still remains high in the U.S. For a decade new cases of HIV have remained around 50,000, a great reduction from the 130,000 levels of the late-1980s, but as Dr. Kevin Fenton, the chief of AIDS prevention for the CDC, states it is still an “unacceptably high level,” where if not changed, “we’re likely to face an era of rising infection rates.”

This day is important not just for those don’t know their status, but also for those that do, and are still discriminated against.

A week before National HIV Testing Day, the American Medical Association (AMA) voted to oppose the Food and Drug Administration’s long-time ban of MSM from donating blood. The AMA vote was based on the fact that the policy is decades old and needs revision, is not based on sound science, and is discriminatory of an entire group rather than individual’s risk rates.

The AMA’s position reflects the growing trend of questioning the blood ban, though with statistics like those above, the FDA has plenty of excuses to delay lifting the ban, citing high population risks and not enough reliable technology.

Internationally, the current trend is to allow deferral periods for MSM before they can donate blood. Countries like Brazil, Sweden, the U.K., Australia, and Japan allow MSM to donate blood after not having sex with another man for at least one year. South Africa has the shortest time frame of six months, while Canada and New Zealand have a deferral period of five years. Chile, Italy, Mexico, Poland, Spain, and Uruguay, however, do not currently have bans on MSM blood donations and freely accept them.

The reason for these differences is because outside of the United States, HIV isn’t a gay men’s disease. The United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) reports that in the main reason for risky sexual behavior is the lack of reliable education about HIV infection as well as access to condoms, and great social stigma. They also report that while new infection rates in Sub-Saharan Africa, the region with the largest amount of people with the disease, has stabilized, rates in South-East Asia continue to rise.

So even if you didn’t observe national testing day, you can—and should—get tested at a clinic. In fact, under The Health Care for America plan (ObamaCare) you should be able to get free HIV testing with your regular checkup. And if you did get tested recently, be sure it isn’t the only time you are tested, and always be sure of your status.

Bill Banning Reparative Therapy in N.J. Approved by Assembly

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Prohibits Licensed Therapists from Performing Conversion Therapy on Minors

An Assembly panel, The Women and Children’s Committee, in the New Jersey State Legislature on June 13, 2013, has approved a measure that disallows licensed therapists from practicing conversion therapy on any person under the age of 18 – even with parental permission, The bill will next go to the Assembly and Senate for votes.

Late last month, the N.J. Senate was due to vote on the measure, but the vote was held up so some unspecified changes that could be made to the legislation.  The measure is backed by the American Psychological Association and is expected to be approved by Governor Christie.

Controversial practice, but Still an Option for Many Minors

Last year, four gay men said that their gay-to-straight program included making them strip naked and attack effigies of their mothers with bats.  They have sued a Jersey City group.

The state legislature in California passed a similar bill that was signed into law in September by Governor Jerry Brown.  A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, however, placed the law on hold until it can consider a challenge to the issue –that the ban violates the First Amendment rights of therapists and parents. “The law is an astounding overreach by the government into the realm of counseling and would have caused irreparable harm, “said Matt Saver, the chairman of a right-wing organization that challenged the California law.

Opponents of conversion therapy say banning the practice is having the government intervene in the lives of parents and children. They believe that the states should focus instead on educating parents and children on why therapy is harmful instead of outlawing it and creating a network of unlicensed therapists. “Banning it may simply drive it underground, where it won’t even be subject to state regulation or limited to therapists who are licensed,” argues Christopher Ferguson, associate professor of psychology and criminal justice at Texas A & M International University.”

Although homosexual was removed in 1973 from the American Psychiatric Association’s list of mental disorders, many people still believed that reparative therapy was a solution for gay and lesbian people who wanted to change their sexual orientation.

The practice has drawn criticism from professional organization, yet states have been hesitant to ban the practice for minors.

Horror Tales From Conversion Campers

One such critic is Jason Utley. At twenty-five, he began attending a support group in Salt Lake City, Utah.  Evergreen, “helped people diminish same-sex attractions and overcome homosexual behavior.” A Mormon, Utley spent two years in the group and eventually left to pursue a relationship with another man.

His group was given prescriptive medicine for bipolar disorder or schizophrenia to treat what was regarded as an “addiction.” Utley didn’t take the medicine, but was talked into believing he’d been molested as a child, a reason for his same-gender attraction. The men were not allowed to see each other outside of Evergreen.

Like the other Evergreen members, Utley saw simultaneously licensed therapists who had been recommended by both the group and by officials of the Mormon Church.  Utley left the Church in 2006, after his two -year struggle to change his identity. As he states, “why depend on something with such little-documented success?”

 

 

 

Three Gay Teens Killed At Death Camp To Make Them Real Men!

 

Raymond Buys looked a picture of health and vitality before being sent by his mother to The Echo Wild Game Rangers training course, to “Make him a better man, to give him a better future” on 12th January 2011. Less than ten weeks later the 15 year old was in hospital, severely malnourished, dehydrated, his arm was broken in two places and there were cigarette burns and wounds all over his body.

He was put on life support in intensive care just two months into the three-month course at the bush camp an hour away from Johannesburg, South Africa. He was so badly injured his mother was told by the doctors the chances of his survival were ‘Virtually Zero’. Raymond Buys lay for four weeks in intensive care before he died.

‘I sent my son on this course to make him a better man, to give him a better future,’ Raymond’s mother, Wilma told The Daily Telegraph. ‘I trusted Alex de Koker with his life.’ Mrs Buys explained how her son had been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and was struggling at school and that the course run by Alex de Koker, had been recommended to her by a friend. Mr de Koker, promised her he could help, that he could find her son a job in the wildlife trade.

During the first two months of her son’s placement at the camp, she says she spoke to Raymond just three times – and was told by Mr de Koker that he was self-harming. “Raymond was only allowed to speak to me on speaker-phone,” she said. “When I asked him why he was hurting himself, he told me ‘Mum, I’m not doing it to myself’.”

Mr de Koker called Mrs Buys on 23rd March and informed her that Raymond had been admitted to hospital for tests. When she arrived at the hospital, she found that he was dying.

Alex de Koker, 49, The Echo Wild Game Rangers ‘General’ and employee Michael Erasmus, 20, are on trial for charges of murder, child abuse and neglect, along with two cases of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm in relation to Raymond Buys’ death.

Last week, the Vereeniging District Court heard the harrowing testimony of a boy who had shared a tent with Raymond Buys. Gerhard Oostuizen, 19, claims Buys was chained to his bed every night, was refused permission to visit the toilet and on one occasion was forced to eat his own faeces. On another occasion Oosthuizen said, that after Mr Buys tipped over a container of washing powder, he was forced to eat what he had spilled and vomited foam.

The 19 year old told how he observed that Mr Buys would be beaten with planks, hosepipes and sticks when he failed to carry out manual labour tasks. Oostuizen further alleges he saw Alex de Koker tie Buys to a chair naked with his head covered in a pillowcase, and would electrocute him with a stun gun.

Raymond is not the first young man to have allegedly died at the hands of Alex de Koker, there have been at least two others deaths at the camp. Eric Calitz, 18, and Nicolaas Van Der Walt, 19, have both died after being enrolled at the Echo Wild Game Rangers camp held on a farm near Vereeniging in 2007. The Calitz’s family were initially informed of his Eric’s death by text message. They were told that their son had died of a heart attack. Subsequently, the cause of death was changed to a seizure, and later, to dehydration. It was eventually revealed that Calitz had died from bleeding on the brain. Van der Walt’s death was first believed to have been a heart attack, but according to local media and forensic reports, the youth appeared to have been choked with a seatbelt.

The trouble started for Eric Calitz when he requested to leave expensive camp, de Koker reportedly told him he ‘wasn’t a moffie [gay] and he would make a man out of him’.

The Echo Wild Game Rangers training camp was supposedly set up by de Koker to teach boys how to become game rangers. However, police reports of the kind of activities that teens would undertake while on the camp do not suggest that a lot of “game ranging” took place. A preliminary police investigation in 2007 found that “the para-military style training presented on this course was not normal ranger training”. In that year, the court heard that De Koker and his “co-instructors” addressed each other using military ranks, and taught skills like leopard crawling and endurance running and walking.

In 2009, De Koker was handed a suspended sentence over Calitz but escaped charges for the death of Van Der Walt, and the camp was allowed to continue.

Gender activist Melanie Nathan has said the three young men were all perceived as ‘gay and clearly effeminate’. ‘With a little bit of digging [into the story], the gay reparative undertones start to emerge.’ Nathan wrote.

Both de Koker and Erasmus have pleaded not guilty to the charges, the court resumes in May.

The Ironies of life…..

It’s been a while since I last penned an article for Gay Agenda and it’s one of the ironies of life that caused the hiatus to my regular postings that I’d like to share with you.

During the early part of the summer last year I was, like most people in the UK, rather excited about the prospect of the forthcoming Olympic Games taking place on home soil. The Olympic Torch was completing a relay the length and breadth of the country, ensuring the majority of the population could feel part of the massive celebration that is so much more than just a sporting event of a global scale. During a news report on the progress of the torch the local TV news also featured a gentleman of advancing years by the name of Nicholas Crace welcoming back two younger chaps that had just completed eleven marathons in as many days. A super human achievement, I’m sure you’ll agree, however this amazing athletic feat was made all the more impressive when it was revealed that one of the runners, Stuart Vince, had only recently donated a kidney to a friend and Nicholas had just become the oldest living organ donor in the UK at the young age of 83!

I was amazed by both of their very different stories, whilst Stuart donated his kidney to help a young friend, Nicholas donated his to a complete stranger, non-directed or altruistic donation as it has become known here in the UK. That news report stayed with me, over and over again it played in my head and set my mind whirling into overtime. I did a little research and was astonished at what I found out, for example in the UK at the moment there are 10,000 people in need of a new organ, there are over 7600 people currently on the waiting list in the UK and even more shockingly, three of those people will die every day because there simply isn’t enough organs to go around. In the United States of America that figure is an even more tragic 18 people who will die each day because of a lack of donated organs. According to recent research approximately 96% of us would take a donated organ if we needed one, yet less than a third of us have signed the organ donation registers to give ours away when we die.

Further research informed me that one can live on one kidney perfectly well, with little or no effect on day to day living, furthermore, most UK living kidney donors tend to live longer than non-donors! Of course having a kidney removed for transplantation is a serious major surgery and consequentially there are risks, like any surgery is not without it’s risks, however the chances of dying from as a result of kidney donation are estimated to be 1 in 3000. Not bad when you consider your chances of dying in a automobile accident are 1 in 2000. After a lot of soul searching, deep thinking and a few more hours of research I decided I’d offer one of my fist sized organs for donation and signed on to become living kidney donor.

The process is quite long and involved many meetings with the transplant co-ordinator, several blood and urine test, chest x-rays, scans, sonograms, ecgs, counselling and yet more blood tests. It can be quite daunting at first, especially if you’re like me and have what I consider to be a rather rational fear of hospitals. I mean they’re full of sick people and unless you work in one they are not the sort of places you go to voluntarily just for fun! However even with that in mind, I still had no doubts that I was doing the right thing and everything would all be worth it in the end.

One of my last tests was a nuclear medicine Glomerular Filtration Rate Cr51 EDTA test, which is a rather long four hour examination in which some radioactive isotopes are injected directly into the blood stream and then at regular intervals blood is taken to test how much of the radioactive stuff the kidneys have cleared. I got my results Christmas last year and my dreams of becoming a living kidney donor came to a crashing halt. My kidneys are not working as they should, in short my results actually revealed that I cant be living kidney donor because I’m on the borderline between stage two and stage three of chronic kidney disease!

Isn’t that a kick in the private parts, there I am, striving to become a living organ donor, all ready to give away either my left or right kidney when all the time the only thing wrong with me is my blooming kidneys! I had no clue anything and I have to confess it took me a long time to completely recover my equilibrium, still I suppose it’s just one of those slightly cruel ironies of my life, you know, I voluntary go to hospital, undergo a series of tests I don’t really need, in order to donate something only to find unbeknownst to me that what I want to donate is already way passed its prime, a bit like an odd left sneaker left behind in the locker room after game. It’s old, it’s a little worn, still functional yet no use to anyone else other than its original owner!

Still, that’s just the way it is, I’ll not change it by complaining and besides there are so many in a worse off than me, and even though I can’t do it, I’m still passionate about organ donation, either living or otherwise and I urge you to seriously consider giving someone the greatest gift you can ever possibly give someone and that is the gift of life!
For more information about my journey read my account of the donation process please see my Donor Diary. www.donordiary.blogspot.co.uk

The US National Kidney Foundation website is a wonderful resource for everything concerned with the kidneys – www.kidney.org

To sign the organ donor register in the UK please visit here.  www.organdonation.nhs.uk

American Academy of Pediatrics Supports Gay Marriage

Concludes Same-Sex Marriage As Good For Kids

The American Academy of Pediatrics, representing 60,000 pediatricians and other pediatric specialists, “supports pediatricians advocating for public policies that help all children and their parents, regardless of sexual orientation, build and maintain strong, stable, and healthy families that are able to meet the needs of their children.”

The AAP’s position comes from the perspective of what is best for the children’s well-being: these factors include potentially better access to health insurance, as well as the legal rights for the children and families by marriage, such as parental visitation and custody in case of divorce. There are estimated to be three million lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender parents in the United States, according to the Family Equality Council.

Present and Past Research

The AAP policy statement, “Promoting the Well-Being of Children Whose Parents Are Gay or Lesbian,” and an accompanying technical report will be published in the April 2013 Pediatrics (published online March 21). The report examines some thirty years of research on the well-being of children raised by gay parents and concludes there is no evidence to suggest children are worse off compared with those with heterosexual parents.  The policy statement and accompanying technical report adds recommendations in support of civil marriage for same-gender couples, adoption by single parents, co-parents or second parents regardless of sexual orientation and foster care placement regardless of sexual orientation. In a previous 2002 policy statement and reaffirmed in 2012, the AAP supported second-parent adoption by partners of the same sex as a way to protect children’s right to maintain relationships with both parents, financial security, and eligibility for health benefits.

What the Co-Authors of the Policy Statement Say:

According to Ellen Perrin, M.D., a pediatric professor at the Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, and co-author of the policy statement, there may also be emotional benefits for kids from the stability that comes from marriage. “children with gay parents tend to realize their family is different than others and express relief when their parents are able to get married. If a child has two loving and capable parents who choose to create a permanent bond, it’s in the best interest of their children that legal institutions allow them to do so.”

Benjamin Siegel, MD, chair of the AAP Committee on Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health, and co-author of the statement, remarked that “children thrive in families that provide permanent security, and the way we do that is through marriage.  The AAP believes there should be equal opportunity for every couple to access the economic stability and federal supports provided to married couples to raise children.”

What is Not Healthy for the Children

The Policy statement says that many factors confer risk to children’s healthy development and adult outcomes, such as poverty, parental depression, parental substance abuse, divorce, and domestic violence.  But the sexual orientation of their parents is not among them.” Many studies point to the normal development of children of same-gender couples when the child is wanted, the parents have a commitment to shared parenting, and the parents have strong social and economic support.

 

 

 

American Psychological Association Files Brief with the U.S. Supreme Court

Claims No Scientific Basis for Banning Same-Sex Marriage

The American Psychological Association in Washington, D.C, is the world’s largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States.  It is the world’s largest association of psychologists. Donald N. Bersoff, PhD, JD, said that the association has a long history of supporting equal access to legal marriage based on years of scientific research. “There is no scientific basis for denying marriage to same-sex couples particularly when research indicates that marriage provides many important benefits.  The research shows that same-sex couples are similar to heterosexual couples in essential ways and that they are as likely as opposite-sex couples to raise mentally, healthy, well-adjusted children.”

What the Briefs State

“Like heterosexual couples, same-sex couples, form deep emotional attachments and commitments.  Heterosexual and same-sex couples alike face similar issues concerning intimacy, love, equity, loyalty and stability, and they go through similar processes to address those issues. Empirical research demonstrates that the psychological and social aspects of committed relationships between same-sex partners largely resembles those of heterosexual partnerships.”

The briefs cite empirical scientific evidence that demonstrate that “homosexuality is a normal expression of human sexuality, is not chosen and is highly resistant to change. There is no scientific basis for concluding that gay and lesbian parents are any less fit or capable than heterosexual parents, or that their children are any less psychologically healthy and well-adjusted.”

How Conclusions Were Drawn

The briefs do not focus on one single study, but on general patterns.  They rely on the best empirical research available.  The studies in the brief were critically evaluated to assess their methodology, including the reliability and validity of the measures and tests employed, and the quality of data-collection procedures and statistical analyses.

Amicus Briefs Argue

“Friend of the Court” briefs filed in the cases of “Hollingsworth v. Perry”which challenges California’s Proposition 8, and U.S. v. Windsor, which challenges the federal Defense of Marriage Act, state that denying recognition to legally married same-sex couples stigmatizes them.

Other Leading Mental Health Orgnaizations that Filed Briefs

The other mental health organization who filed the Windsor and Perry briefs were:  The American Academy of Pediatrics, American Medical Association, California Medical Association, American Psychiatric Association, American Psychoanalytic Association, National Association of Social Workers, the New York City and New York State Psychological Association, American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, the California Chapter of NASW, and the California Psychological Association. 

Israel’s HIV Rate Up Since 2005

Ministry of Health Figures Up 55%.

Israel’s Ministry of Health found that infection rate among gay men is five times more common  than among heterosexuals.

Haaretz reports that there are now an estimated 7,750 people living with HIV in Israel, and probably one-third of them don’t know it. It is not clear if increased testing and awareness are leading to an increase in reported cases or if there is a spike in actual infections.

Alarming Current Statistics

  • More than 20% of gay Israeli men report not using condoms.
  • Number of respondents who reported casual partners jumped to 40%.
  • Penile gonorrhea 55% higher among gay men than among straight men.
  • Sixteen times as many cases of pharyngeal (throat) gonorrhea .

Past Statistics

From 1981 to 2011, there were 6,579 people in Israel who tested positive for HIV or AIDS. Out of that population, 1,265 were gay men.  In January 2010, there was a reported spike of other sexually transmitted diseased among gay men.

Reasons for Rise in HIV Increase

  • Firstly, the transformation of HIV/AIDS into a chronic manageable disease has decreased the fear effect.
  • Secondly, this is the generation that did not experience firsthand the AIDS plague of the 80’s that killed so many.
  • Thirdly, there is an increase in risk behavior, especially with recreational drugs and unprotected sex.

What Israel is Doing About the Spike in Infections

The findings are similar to those found in the West, and requires work not only on preventative methods and risk awareness, but the psychology of why people, knowing their risks, engage in unsafe sex. In the last few years, Israel’s Ministry of Health has started working with the country’s main LGBT organization called The Aguda, and in the next few weeks, is planning on launching a new program to combat the rate of HIV infection in the LGBT community. Stay tuned!

Yet Another Major Supporter of Boy Scouts Withdraws

 

Merck

Angry at Anti-Gay Policy of Boy Scouts

New Jersey-based Pharmaceutical Giant Merck, following the precedent set by Intel and UPS, this week reported that it would suspend all funding to the Boy Scouts until the Boy Scouts inclusion criteria has been expanded.

Merck had given the Boy Scouts of America $30,000 in 2011, according to records.  In a statement released last week, Vice President and spokesperson for Merck, Brian Grill outlined the decision to not donate :

“The Merck Foundation believes that it is critical to honor and support a foundational policy of diversity and inclusion in all funding decisions.  Recently, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), with its 2.7 million youth membership, restated its policy that excludes members on the basis of sexual orientation. The BSA’s policy of exclusion directly conflicts with the Merck Foundation’s giving guidelines.”

Zach Wahls’s Campaign

Activist Wahls’s  has a campaign to have telecommunications giant Verizon withdraw its support for the Boy Scouts. Wahls  said about Merck: “I am thrilled that Merck and Company, has announced its foundation arm is immediately withdrawing funding from the Boy Scouts of America until the program ends its anti-gay membership.”

Prior History of Ousting Troop Leaders and Members

In July 2011, the Boy Scouts of American reaffirmed its long-standing policy that prohibits openly gay members from joining the organization and bans gays and lesbians from serving as scout leaders.

The Boy Scouts of America was criticized for kicking out a popular Ohio lesbian Den leader Jennifer Tyrell from her son Colin’s Tiger Scout’s troop.  She has since gained many signatures for her petition to be reinstated.  Similarly, California gay Scout Ryan Andresen was denied his Eagle Scout award although he completed all the badges to earn the prestigious award. (He did, however, receive a $20,000 check from Ellen De Generes.)

Claims of Pedophilia within Scouting

Despite BSOA’s rigid ruling against homosexuals serving within their organization, pedophiles have been able to infiltrate Boy Scout Troops. Former scouts and their parents have filed suits against this volunteer organization that kept secret or perversion files about leaders under suspicion, from 1960’s to 1980’s. BSOA did not always expel these questionables, leaving vulnerable Boy Scouts prey to those in power.