Another Mom Asked to Stop Breastfeeding in Public


public breastfeeding, massachusetts law, ma medfordWe’ve covered lots of stories in the past few months about moms getting flack for breastfeeding in public, and news items on the topic continue to crop up.  Yesterday a Boston-area YMCA employee was reprimanded for asking a mother to stop breastfeeding her infant in the child-care area of the fitness center.  Some employees were reportedly concerned about the other children seeing Elizabeth Gomez’s exposed breast, but the worker in question cited the “no food or beverages” policy as an excuse to ask her to leave.  (Massachusetts passed a law in April 2009 providing for breastfeeding in any space open to the general public.)

The Stir posted an open letter by Gomez, in which she states that when informed about the incident, the director of the YMCA threatened to revoke Gomez’s membership.  The letter says:

When I spoke to the director about this issue, Amy Turner, she assured me she would look into the issue for me, and she seemed to take my complaint seriously.  During our initial conversation, when I informed her that the YMCA’s actions were illegal, she also made it a point to tell me that my “membership can be terminated at any time, for any reason.”  This statement concerns me very much, because I value my YMCA membership, and do not want my membership terminated.  On the other hand, I do not want to be pressured by the threat of losing my membership to not follow up on this violation of my legal rights, and I feel strongly that staff education on this matter is of the utmost importance.

World Breastfeeding Week begins this Sunday, August 1st.  This year marks the 20-year anniversary of the World Health Organization/UNICEF’s Innocenti Declaration, created to nurture a “breastfeeding culture” around the world.  As a result of the declaration, the United States Breastfeeding Committee was formed in 1998, and is now comprised of over 40 member organizations, including the AAP, La Leche League International, Lamaze International and the USDA/WIC Program.  I know many of our readers are vocal breastfeeding advocates.  Do any of you have plans to participate in lactivist events next week in the hopes of curbing incidents like this?

Photo: Tim & Selena Middleton via Flickr