I need some support, to vent. I am feeling really infuriated by what occurred to today, and I think you ladies will understand.
My older son is in Head Start and I have been volunteering with him several times a week. I have had some serious doubts about putting him in head start. I am not a fan of public schools, and am considering homeschooling/unschooling my sons eventually, however Kai was asking for friends every day, so I thought we would try it out. He has been having a somewhat hard time with the separation and I haven't been a fan of the teachers too much. But that is another story...what I did like is that they let me come and volunteer with Atlas, my 13mo whenever I wanted. I nurse him occasionally on demand there. I was told in the beginning of the year that this was fine, but just do it not at the table during snack time. I followed this request.
Today I was told by my son's teacher that breastfeeding would no longer be allowed in the classroom. They offered the breakroom or the bathroom. They said that any new mom or nursing mom would breastfeed in there, that this was being told to all the new moms. I told her that it is a legally protected right to breastfeed in public. She said that because head start is to prepare kids for public school, and that public schools do not allow breastfeeding, they have to go along with it. I asked if it was policy, and she said that it just is to make other volunteers and staff feel comfortable. She did a fine linguistic dance around "policy".
I am really shocked that they would do this, and I told her so. I told her it is so important for people to witness normal, healthy breastfeeding relationships. That it's good for kids to see. I asked her, "Would you make a bottle feeding mom go to the bathroom to feed her baby?" and she said no. I told her that the peninsula needs more young mothers to breastfeed, that it would go allong with the Head Start philosophy of giving kids a good start nutritionally. I said that making another barrier to young moms who want to breastfeed by implying it's dirty and must be hidden is not going to encourage the breastfeeding relationship. I went on and on. There was more to the conversation, but that gives you an idea. She just kept repeating that its about other parents and the staff being comfortable. She detailed one day that a teacher from the other classroom saw my breast "nipple and everything just hanging out there"!!! I said, that there is more explicit stuff on prime time tv (I don't have TV but I am guessing, and I have heard ) and that it's not my problem, it is theirs.
I said that I wanted to speak to her supervisor, however her supervisor I guess isn't going to be there for weeks. She said I could have a conference call with her supervisors supervisor. I said I want to, and I will. And I will get this in writing.
I think that Head Start is considered public space, and according to the law in Washington State it is discrimination to not allow a woman to breastfeed in a public space. I would really appreciate your advice on this, as I feel badly for myself as well as other mom's. I feel that there should be as few barriers to women breastfeeding their children as possible and am dismayed and humiliated.
What I really want to do is have a nurse in. Anyone interested?
I am really upset, because this is just the icing on the mad cake I have been baking about Head Start. There are a lot of things I like, but I really don't like this teacher, and I don't like the constant monitoring and government oversight.
What is shocking about it all is this woman has a three month old she breastfeeds! She pumps when she is at work. I just don't get it.
I think I am going to start a discrimination case about it. It's appalling. Does anyone have any good ideas for a direction to go in or have experience with this? I am in Washington State.