Hallowe'en update post 134: Harassed at the Y - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 154 Old 09-06-2007, 12:53 AM - Thread Starter
 
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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
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#2 of 154 Old 09-06-2007, 12:58 AM
 
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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
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#3 of 154 Old 09-06-2007, 01:02 AM
 
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i'd start here...hugs, i hope that you can open their eyes and minds!
http://www.infactcanada.ca/Breastfeeding_Rights.htm

Jen-loving Bill, mama to Teryn 18, Kalyn 16, Ricky 13, Natalie 5, Angel Zoe '07 and rainbow1284.gifAmelia Rae 22 mos bonus kids (dss) W 14, W 13 NEW grandbaby due 10/10/11

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#4 of 154 Old 09-06-2007, 01:03 AM
 
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found this, as well...
http://www.ohrc.on.ca/en/issues/pregnancy

Jen-loving Bill, mama to Teryn 18, Kalyn 16, Ricky 13, Natalie 5, Angel Zoe '07 and rainbow1284.gifAmelia Rae 22 mos bonus kids (dss) W 14, W 13 NEW grandbaby due 10/10/11

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#5 of 154 Old 09-06-2007, 01:08 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you - I have written to Elizabeth Sterken at INFACT and the Human Rights link was exactly what I was looking for.
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#6 of 154 Old 09-06-2007, 01:08 AM
 
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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!

Amanda , mama to my two boys: N (10/06) and : A (7/09)
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#7 of 154 Old 09-06-2007, 01:11 AM
 
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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!

Jen-loving Bill, mama to Teryn 18, Kalyn 16, Ricky 13, Natalie 5, Angel Zoe '07 and rainbow1284.gifAmelia Rae 22 mos bonus kids (dss) W 14, W 13 NEW grandbaby due 10/10/11

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#8 of 154 Old 09-06-2007, 01:26 AM - Thread Starter
 
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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!"
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#9 of 154 Old 09-06-2007, 01:26 AM - Thread Starter
 
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you're very welcome! please keep us posted!
hey! I have a DD named Taryn, like you! Just a different spelling.
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#10 of 154 Old 09-06-2007, 01:35 AM
 
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In the US the Y has a bad reputation with breastfeeding. Run-ins are frequent and often unresolved.

-Angela
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#11 of 154 Old 09-06-2007, 01:40 AM
 
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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.
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#12 of 154 Old 09-06-2007, 02:11 AM
 
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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
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#13 of 154 Old 09-06-2007, 02:22 AM
 
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Also, try PMing daniandquin since she's a local GTA super lactivist mama! She may have some other suggestions for you.

LP
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#14 of 154 Old 09-06-2007, 07:06 AM
 
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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.

Take the time to heal from your marriage before you move on with someone else. Make a list of all the qualities you would like in a new partner and then work on growing that way yourself. ~mandib50
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#15 of 154 Old 09-06-2007, 07:10 AM
 
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I am very shocked! I have no advice but I wanted to tell you congrats on standing your ground!

Erika SO to *S*: and Aunt to *A*(10), *Z*(9), and *D*(8)
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#16 of 154 Old 09-06-2007, 10:57 AM
 
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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
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#17 of 154 Old 09-06-2007, 11:16 AM
 
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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.

Mom to Eoin (11/02), Eilis (09/04), Eamon (07/07), and Ellery (04/10)
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#18 of 154 Old 09-06-2007, 11:26 AM
 
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If they are "family orientated" then they should support you nursing where you can observe your children.

Orthodox Mama
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#19 of 154 Old 09-06-2007, 12:06 PM
 
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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.
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#20 of 154 Old 09-06-2007, 12:26 PM
 
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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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#21 of 154 Old 09-06-2007, 01:22 PM
 
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I actually hadn't throughly read your first post when I posted.

YOU DID A WONDERFUL JOB! I think you responded exactly as well as you should have - state your case, stand your ground, then ask them to stop talking about it. There is nothing more you could do at the time, since your were not planning to do this or for this to happen. Your priority is to care for your children and yourself.

You can NOW, follow up and say all those things that you later thought of and wish you had said.

BTW, I run a list of over 650 Cdn breastfeeding advocates (see link in my sig below) and would be happy to share your story with them if you want, or need. That is, if they don't change their tune quickly. I can't imagine that they won't given the huge amount of evidence you can provide them, through INFACT and the report I linked to above.

Incidencts at Pools seem to happen often. I guess we just need to keep educating about this one.

Janice

(also there was a big incident in Toronto in 2005 - I help support a mom at a Toronto Municipal Park. The City of TO actually issued a statement in support of bfing rights after that basically saying that a mom has the right to breastfeed anytime, anywhere and anyhow they like. Its the "anyhow" part that we need to keep educating about).

YOu may also enjoy reading this discussion of the Edmonton Pools incident at the TERA (Topfreedom Equal Rights Association) website. They would be happy to support you, also.

http://www.tera.ca/BACE1.html

and

http://www.tera.ca/BACE2.html
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#22 of 154 Old 09-06-2007, 01:38 PM
 
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how much difference does it make if its a private facility? From what I understand the Y can refuse you if you don't vaccinate your child and they are allowed to do that because its private. v
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#23 of 154 Old 09-06-2007, 02:03 PM
 
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how much difference does it make if its a private facility? From what I understand the Y can refuse you if you don't vaccinate your child and they are allowed to do that because its private. v
In Canada, it is protected under the Human Rights Code, that applies to everyone. Businesses or private facilities cannot make policy that discriminates against Human Rights. There have been cases, that have been won, by the bfing mom. Human Rights overrides business policy or practice.

(freedom to not vaccinate is not part of the Human Rights Code, as far as I know).
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#24 of 154 Old 09-06-2007, 02:32 PM
 
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hey! I have a DD named Taryn, like you! Just a different spelling.
i've come across quite a few TARYN's from canada! that name with the "A" spelling must be popular up there. my ex (my older children's father) is terry, so we used the "E" spelling.

hoping that you have good results. thanks also to janice!

Jen-loving Bill, mama to Teryn 18, Kalyn 16, Ricky 13, Natalie 5, Angel Zoe '07 and rainbow1284.gifAmelia Rae 22 mos bonus kids (dss) W 14, W 13 NEW grandbaby due 10/10/11

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#25 of 154 Old 09-06-2007, 04:17 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you for all your support and resources. I will sort through them all tonight and respond with what action I will take. I am seriously considering a Human Rights Code lawsuit. I also want to send them information, but I am not sure if I can do them both.
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#26 of 154 Old 09-07-2007, 09:11 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you for all your information and support. I would be happy for you to share my story. I have heard back from Infact and Jack Newman and I am planning on filing an Ontario Human Rights complaint. I am going to ask my friend who was there with me to help me write out exactly what was said and the timeline, and take it from there. I decided that I am happy for this to go public. In this day and age there is *no* excuse for an organization to harass breastfeeding mothers.

BTW, although this was a pool location, I wasn't participating in swimming like some other women who were harassed at pools. I was observing my kids swimming lessons poolside, so I think the pool location was secondary to what happened and not a big factor. Staff ignorance was the biggest factor.
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#27 of 154 Old 09-12-2007, 01:29 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I have started the process of filing an Ontario Human Rights Commission complaint. Just FYI.
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#28 of 154 Old 09-12-2007, 01:32 PM
 
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removed private contact information
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#29 of 154 Old 09-12-2007, 02:00 PM
 
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Wow, I am so angry to hear about this. What can we do to best support you?
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#30 of 154 Old 09-12-2007, 02:08 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you! I am just in the process of contacting some of the Ontario breastfeeding action stakeholders for their input, and awaiting a call from a lawyer. I will keep you updated and ask for help as I need it. The next step might be to send out emails to raise awareness of the issue. I have also been in contact with a local reporter who has written on breastfeeding issues in the Toronto Star (today Facebook was front page news for banning photos of breastfeeding).

Thanks so much for your response. Feeling anxious and trepidatious (sp?)
Carolynn
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