Sure, gay and lesbian people can’t make children with their partners, but they can technically make children. No, I’m not talking about closeted gay people who marry and start a family. I’m talking about egg and sperm donation.
Unfortunately, it’s much harder for gay men to donate sperm and lesbians to donate eggs than it is for their heterosexual counterparts. This is especially troubling since people within the LGBT community often are the ones using sperm and egg donors in order to have children.
An FDA policy encourages sperm banks not to accept sperm donations from men who have sex with men. The policy is discriminatory, and based on the idea that gay men will transmit HIV through their sperm. Sperm banks already screen donors for HIV and there is no documented case of donated sperm resulting in HIV transmission. Sperm banks already routinely freeze sperm donations for more than six months before insemination, and donors are tested for HIV and other diseases. Basically, the risk of HIV infection is near zero, whether the donor is gay, straight, or bisexual.
The Rainbow Flag Sperm Bank, a sperm bank in Alameda, California gets its sperm from gay donors and aims to build a stronger LGBT community by helping LGBT people have children. But sperm donors shouldn’t be limited to donating sperm to one company that’s specifically created for LGBT families.
Sadly, things aren’t much different for lesbian and bisexual egg donors. While the FDA has no recommendation with regard to the sexual orientation of egg donors, agencies are discriminatory regardless.
A previous employee at an egg donation agency provided some sad commentary on lesbian and bisexual egg donors: “Lesbians never made it through. Bisexuals sometimes did, but we had to tell the parent about the donor’s sexuality. I guess it was the whole gay gene thing. Which science has not concluded. But it was also thought that the parents just wouldn’t choose gay donors.”
Blood donors aren’t the only donors subject to homophobic policies and discrimination. Potential egg and sperm donors are regularly discriminated against based on their sexual orientation, regardless of the obvious lack of reasoning behind this discrimination.
Photo credit: gabi_menashe