Santa Cruz Student Threatened Over Blood Drive

Jim Burroway

January 16th, 2007

As I said before, kids can be very passionate. Thank God for that. It’s clear that the younger generation is truly our best hope for a better future.

But progress doesn’t come without a price. No pain, no gain, as one Santa Cruz high school student recently discovered:

Ronnie Childers, 17, student body president at Harbor High School, said he volunteered at a blood drive at his school earlier this month for five hours and waited in line for three more before being turned away.

That’s a lot of youthful passion to give eight hours of his time for a blood drive, and to wait three hours for his turn to give blood. Why says young people are apathetic. But Ronnie’s good work ran afoul of the ban on gay men donating blood. Ronnie spoke out against the ban to the local newspaper, and his case prompted the Santa Cruz school district to reconsider its participation in the blood drive. In the end, the school system decided to continue the drive, but student donors are required to obtain parental permission before donating.

But now, Ronnie is paying the price for speaking up:

Ronnie Childers, Harbor’s senior class president, said Monday he’s received about 50 letters attacking his sexuality since his complaints about national blood donor rules, and his photo, were published in a Sentinel story last month. The story later attracted state and national attention.

Some of the letters were hostile enough that Childers forwarded them to police, “just to be on the safe side”

“There are a couple key phrases, ‘I know where you go to school,'” he said. “I think adults need to understand that letters like this are inappropriate”

As Ronnie has discovered, activism attracts attention, the wrong kind of attention. Believe me, I know. It shouldn’t be this way, and there is absolutely no excuse for threatening anyone, especially a teenager. But as long as we live in a society where some members value might over right, and who don’t see the irony of cherishing freedoms by threatening the freedoms of others, this is the price we will all pay.

Something to think about on the day after Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday observances.

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