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Hallowe'en update post 134: Harassed at the Y

post #1 of 154
Thread Starter 
My youngest is 5 months old and exclusively breastfed. I breastfed my other kids for a total of over 4 years and have never had anybody say anything to me about breastfeeding in public, except kudos.

A few days ago I was at (a very large recreational facility, at which I am a member) and was watching my kids' swimming lesson. I was approached by an employee who said that I would probably want to move to a private area in their child minding centre as the Y was "a family-oriented place", insinuating that breastfeeding was not compatible with family activities. I replied that I had a right to breastfeed anywhere and that I wasn't interested in moving. She was shocked that I stood my ground, and after a minute or two of further exchange, she left. I had a friend with me and we exchanged incredulous looks. She came back and reported that her supervisor, Sherri Perez, told her that my right to breastfeed did not extend to the Y and that while they didn't have a policy on no public breastfeeding, that it was "up to the discretion of the staff whether or not someone should be asked to go somewhere else". I reiterated my rights as I knew them, and said I wasn't going anywhere, that I was watching my kids and that they were wrong. We had an exchange that last 10 minutes (no kidding), and ended up involving a busybody woman beside me, who told me that I should meet them half-way by at least covering up. I left shaken and upset. My friend approached the staff member again, and told her that she upset me. She came over to me and apologized for making me feel bad. She said that they had in-services fairly often and she would be bringing up this event for discussion. She admitted that no person had complained, but that the staff had collectively agreed that my breastfeeding was indecent, that they were incredulous that I would breastfeed there, and that something should be said to me. This was all done in a very private area, extended over many, many minutes, was acutely attention-grabbing, and prevented me from greeting my kids as they finished class. At one point I asked her to stop talking to me, but she continued. Obviously, as much as I have gone over in my head great responses to say to people if they ever said something about me breastfeeding, in the moment it was a very uncomfortable and somewhat humiliating experience (because of the public nature and attention-grabbing scene it caused).

I have a few questions;

-where can I find resources to bring to them detailing my rights?
-what can I do to ensure this organization, which appears to have no breastfeeding knowledge from the top down, doesn't harass other breastfeeding women?

I would love some assistance and direction.

Thanks!

Carolynn
post #2 of 154
I have no idea how things work in Canada. I would start by going to the local public health facility or ask your midwife or local LC. The LLL website might have something, but I've never looked to see what they have for Canada, just the US. I'm sorry to hear you had such a bad experience, and I hope you find the resources you need.

Anna
post #3 of 154
i'd start here...hugs, i hope that you can open their eyes and minds!
http://www.infactcanada.ca/Breastfeeding_Rights.htm
post #4 of 154
post #5 of 154
Thread Starter 
Thank you - I have written to Elizabeth Sterken at INFACT and the Human Rights link was exactly what I was looking for.
post #6 of 154
Way to go for standing your ground! It sounds like you did an awesome job, and hopefully you will find the right info to bring to them - and perhaps at their upcoming in-service they can discuss it and adopt a BF-friendly policy so other mothers don't get bothered like you did!
post #7 of 154
Quote:
Originally Posted by CarolynnMarilynn View Post
Thank you - I have written to Elizabeth Sterken at INFACT and the Human Rights link was exactly what I was looking for.
you're very welcome! please keep us posted!
post #8 of 154
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by amandaleigh37 View Post
Way to go for standing your ground! It sounds like you did an awesome job, and hopefully you will find the right info to bring to them - and perhaps at their upcoming in-service they can discuss it and adopt a BF-friendly policy so other mothers don't get bothered like you did!
Thank you. In my mind I would have been much more eloquent. Instead I just stood my ground, told them they were violating my rights, and eventually, to stop talking to me about it. I felt harassed, and I was in shock, so couldn't say all that I would have if I could have prepared. I did make the statements that "nothing was as family-oriented than breastfeeding" and "what you need is MORE women breastfeeding around here, not less!"
post #9 of 154
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by boobs4milk View Post
you're very welcome! please keep us posted!
hey! I have a DD named Taryn, like you! Just a different spelling.
post #10 of 154
In the US the Y has a bad reputation with breastfeeding. Run-ins are frequent and often unresolved.

-Angela
post #11 of 154
If you're in Ontario, you should not have been bothered for one additional reason. Since R. v. Jacobs about ten years ago, requiring women to cover their breasts in situations where men do not have to is discrimination. I assume the men in the pool were topless, so they had no business objecting even if you were not nursing, but had merely removed your top.
post #12 of 154
I am in utter SHOCK and DISGUST!!! I just can't believe that this happened to you here. Try contacting Dr. Newman (also in the GTA) if you need a well repected professional to back you up.

Naive of me but... I EXPECT to hear this kinda crap from the US but not from Canada. This makes me so mad and quite sad that you had to go through this humiliation! {{{HUGS}}}

I'm so tempted to go into the local Y in London as it's just up the street from the inlaws and ask them what their policy is on the matter.

I mean, in Ontario you are permitted to walk about topless with no baby attached but you have to cover at the Y??? Insane!

If I'm not mistaken the Y is publically funded, no?

LP
post #13 of 154
Also, try PMing daniandquin since she's a local GTA super lactivist mama! She may have some other suggestions for you.

LP
post #14 of 154
Quote:
Originally Posted by LittlePeanut View Post
Also, try PMing daniandquin since she's a local GTA super lactivist mama! She may have some other suggestions for you.

LP
Also try "Janice in Canada." I'd put "in Canada" or the city in your title if you want.
post #15 of 154
I am very shocked! I have no advice but I wanted to tell you congrats on standing your ground!
post #16 of 154
Quote:
Originally Posted by Momtwice View Post
Also try "Janice in Canada." I'd put "in Canada" or the city in your title if you want.
Good point! She usually has all the info, links, paperwork and research so she could definitely point you in the right direction to get things changed.

LP
post #17 of 154
I'm so sorry you went throug that! Thank you for standing your ground - for yourself, your child, and for the rest of us who continue to NIP and need more people to be supportive.
post #18 of 154
If they are "family orientated" then they should support you nursing where you can observe your children.
post #19 of 154
Quote:
Originally Posted by boheime View Post
I'm so sorry you went throug that! Thank you for standing your ground - for yourself, your child, and for the rest of us who continue to NIP and need more people to be supportive.
My thoughts exactly.
post #20 of 154
Hi!

I am still around, a bit. Yes, I usually would check something with a Cdn flag int he subject line before anything else.

INFACT may have already alerted you to this resource, but you need to access these documents at this link: (scroll down the page)

http://www.breastfeedingalberta.ca/advocacy.htm

Breastfeeding Action Committee of Edmonton
Breastfeeding at Municipal Pools in Canada, 2002 pdf file
Breastfeeding in Municipal Pools in Canada: Appendices pdf file

Your work has been done for you with these reports.

Janice
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