Need lactivism help, quick! - Mothering Forums
Lactivism > Need lactivism help, quick!
craft_media_hero's Avatar craft_media_hero 09:42 PM 08-29-2011
ok, long story short, Sunday at the pool, I was asked by a manager to feed my baby in the bathroom or under a towel (my son is 13 months and there is no way on the planet he would tolerate being under a giant heavy towel at the hot muggy pool, lol) because another patron complained about me nursing openly--we were in the hot tub,seated on the top step,out of the water andfacing the pool. I was wearing a bikini top and nursing as discreetly as one can under those circumstances. No more of my breast was exposed than normal bikini cleavage, tho yes it is possible that a nipple may have been exposed for a split second since nipples areinvolved in breastfeeding, after all wink1.gif

I kept cool, smiled, spoke in a friendly manner, informed him of my state's law (Colorado, the law is annoyingly vague), pointed out that I was no more exposed than other women at the pool, he said that it made others uncomfortable to which I replied that they were welcome to look elsewhere. He conti ued to repeat that he was asking me to. Use the. Bathroom/changing area (which is typical pool nasty) I smiled and asked him if he ate his lunch in the bathroom to which he was not amused, tho I really was trying to keep the convo lighthearted and showcase the absurdity of his request. He really kept at it, I kept stating the law, he said he wasn't asking me to leave but only to move to the bathroom area; eventually I replied, I don't know how you expect me to respond to this, I am not going to feed my baby in the bathroom, and he walked away.

I walked away shaking and sick to my stomach. Ilove this pool and wego there all the time, I was totally caught off guard, have nursed my babies there p,enty overthe last 8 yrs and have never had anegative experience before.

Luckily, I was with a great group of mamas, and the mother who hosted the bday party we were attending spoke to the manager, informed him that his request was infringing on my rights and that this issue would be followed up on through pur parks and rec dept. She again qoted the law to him, to which he replied that he understood that but that his facility hasto balance that with standards of public decency. !WHAT! As if the business gets to interpret the law according to their own level of comfort?

Today I went down to the P n R and made an appointment in person with the rec super for Wednesday. He seems a decent fellow, said he has had a ton of calls (which I did not solicit and was unaware of, but you know how these things spread), mentioned how it is an uncomfortable topic in general and complicated eyesroll.gif um no, its cut and dry thats how babies eat, that two employees had given written statements of their account.

Apparently a friend says that she was called back by him or someone else who stated therewere "conflicting accounts regarding [ my] level of exposure". Which points me to assume that they expect a mama to nurse "modestly" or otherwise confronting her is justified?

Okay, that was long. Sorry. Now.

What I need to know is:
Can a business legally insist that a bf mom move to another room? It is discrimination to say a bf mom has to use the bathroom, but a bottle feeding mom can do so openly, right?

Can they ask a mom to cover? Which is ridiculous to expect for soooo many reasons I'm sure you all can come up with on your own . . .

Is it harassment for the manager to confront me as he did? Or is it just rude? Does he have the right to approach me like that? Or is what he did illegal?

Anything else you think may be helpful.

My friend who spoke to the manager is planning on coming with me Wednesday, and we are planning on bringing written stayements of our account of what happened. I am also planning on bringing a copy of the (annoyingly vague) law and an example of the policy I would like them to train their employees with in the future, namely, read the complaining patron the law and state that facility employees have no right to confront the breastfeeding mother, leave the innocent mama out of it, she should not be involved at all as the complaining patron's discomfort is not her issue but their own.

My goal is to follow up unti they have presented me with a copy of their new employee trainingpolicy which I will "test" by staging a nursing mama and complaining patron.

Thank you in advance, I could really use some solid btdt advice, this is my first real lactivation wink1.gif as far as really pushing for a policy change.

craft_media_hero's Avatar craft_media_hero 09:49 PM 08-29-2011
Oh, I wanted to mention the pool manager was all of maybe 19 years old and obviously handling it as best he could with limited education/tools/experience. I forgive him as I am sure that if his training had included an appropriate policy response, that is what he would have used, which is why my goal is a new training policy, not to get this kid fired by any means.

Please respond, I have only 36 hrs or so to prepare for this meeting.

Thank you!
PatioGardener's Avatar PatioGardener 05:09 AM 08-30-2011

Sorry this will be really short for now. Can you go above the manager? It sounds like you tried with him and now need to go up the ladder. I'm not sure any more time spent talking to the manager will help.


I'm angry that this happened to you, and proud that you didn't back down.


Good luck, stay strong and please keep us informed!


Also, there is a national body that follows incidents like this - they may be interested in hearing from you. Sorry I don't know the name but someone here will.

Anna Phor's Avatar Anna Phor 12:27 PM 08-30-2011

This is the law in CO, as far as I can tell ... "A mother may breast-feed in any place she has a right to be."



What I need to know is:
Can a business legally insist that a bf mom move to another room? It is discrimination to say a bf mom has to use the bathroom, but a bottle feeding mom can do so openly, right?


Seems to me that under CO law, no, they cannot insist you move (but not because it is discrimination, just simply because you have the right to be there and bf).

Can they ask a mom to cover? Which is ridiculous to expect for soooo many reasons I'm sure you all can come up with on your own . . .

Can't see how they have that right.

Is it harassment for the manager to confront me as he did? Or is it just rude? Does he have the right to approach me like that? Or is what he did illegal?

I think it would have been illegal if he had actually made you leave. But he should not have done what he did.


Who runs the pool? (City? County?) I might suggest going to the supervisor for that entire department (so parks and rec?), and then also checking out the city/county government to see if they have a health policy point person who would have breastfeeding under her purview. I would write a letter cc'ing both of those people. A 19 year old pool manager probably doesn't have much power to set training policy, so I would target the people who DO have that power. They may also be sympathetic to your position--sometimes it takes a call/letter from a member of the public to give a bfing advocate in a govt position some impetus to push her goals (because her supervisors can see their is a real need for it).


And I think this is the organization that PatioGardener was referring to:


good luck!!

AnkaJones's Avatar AnkaJones 02:07 PM 08-30-2011

This is the unfortunate thing about laws with no enforcement clause.  It's against the law for them to make you go somewhere else, so you were within your rights to refuse to go, but there is no penalty in the law for him trying to get you to leave.  You might still be able to have recourse as a civil matter (i.e., by suing him), but you'd have to talk to a lawyer.



craft_media_hero's Avatar craft_media_hero 03:38 PM 08-30-2011

I am meeting with the City Parks and Rec supervisor tomorrow @ 11:30; I have no intention of talking to the pool manager about this issue any further--that's up to his superiors at this point. I want to prepare for our meeting tomorrow with the intention of amending the Parks and Rec employee training policies in a way that will appropriately handle this.


As far as county health person . . . that's a good idea. I actually work in breastfeeding for the county health department (through WIC). AS far as I know, in my county, there is not another person who is in charge of county health concerning breastfeeding besides WIC? I will ask my WIC co-workders, though. I am not in management (just in peer counseling), so I'm not sure what the county's protocol is for who to talk to about setting city/county/state policies. I am meeting with my supervisor for something else on Thursday and wanted to talk to her about this anyways, but I don't think I will be able to get much of her time today in refernece to this situation--It will be me and my doula/activist friend (who addressed the manager at the pool) tomorrow.


Thank you for your responses.

PatioGardener's Avatar PatioGardener 06:38 PM 08-31-2011

How did it go?

cameragirl's Avatar cameragirl 06:58 PM 08-31-2011
Speaking as someone that has worked at a city pool, the only concern I would see is if you were walking around topless. (And you weren't.) Keep going above until you find someone willing to listen and discuss the situation. You'll likely find someone that is receptive and accommodating. If you have to, I would approach the council. The only time I have witnessed people being removed or asked to move was when they were creating a public safety issue (contamination, etc.) or they were dressed completely inappropriately. I'm sorry that you have to deal with this.
craft_media_hero's Avatar craft_media_hero 04:54 PM 09-02-2011
This has EXPLODED in a good way!

Here is my friend's blog post briefly describing our experience:

Apparently it got picked up by cnn, tho we have not gotten a link for that yet.

Wow! The outpouring of support and the discussions happening are awesome. A lot of people are being exposed to new information. There have been some not so nicecomments on the stories, which I am no longer reading.

I am normally a very private, sensitive person, so it has been kinda draining for me. I am letting the other lactivist sisters handle the "education" happening in the comments for now coz I just can't defend myself to every single person who doesnt know the whole story.

For the record, my baby wasnt "in" the hot tub, getting overheated and dehydrated. We were sitting on the edge, nursing with our legs in the water, surrounded by friends and enjoying good conversations.
PatioGardener's Avatar PatioGardener 06:12 PM 09-02-2011

Congratulations! I didn't have time to read all the links yet, but the ones I did were nicely reported and you came across as calm and rational. Just the kind of PR breastfeeding Mamas need! A great educational opportunity for the community! Thanks for doing this.


And, OT but I just have to add, your baby is gorgeous!

craft_media_hero's Avatar craft_media_hero 08:51 PM 09-02-2011
Originally Posted by PatioGardener View Post

And, OT but I just have to add, your baby is gorgeous!

Thank you! He's pretty dear to me innocent.gif
Heba's Avatar Heba 10:28 AM 09-10-2011

So sorry not got time to look at any links, but I just wanted to say a big WELL DONE! for standing your ground and taking this further.  It can't have been a pleasant experience for you, and it's just brilliant that you are pushing for education and for the rights of nursing mums and babes (which you shouldn't have to do, because they are already encoded in law, but sadly the situation is what it is) - and doing it so rationally.


Thank you!

ewe+lamb's Avatar ewe+lamb 03:01 AM 09-12-2011

Hi just read all the stuff on your friend's blog and have posted it on my facebook!!  Love that picture of you both - too cute the two of you!!