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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Sorry for the short notice, I just was emailed this, hope some of you can make it!


-----Original Message-----
From: Emily A.Troper [mailto:[email protected]]
Sent: Thursday, August 28, 2003 7:41 PM
To: attachment parenting group group
Subject: [NAP-Discussion] Nurse-in on September 21st

Our friend Miriam was swimming with her children at the Jim Parsley Center Pool in Vancouver, WA when her baby asked to nurse- she fed her baby boy, and was asked to "take that to the dressing room", luckily she was there with another friend, lactation consultant Lyla Wolfenstein.....

Our peaceful nurse-in is planned for September 21st, we will all be there to support each other and to support breastfeeding mothers and babies everywhere!

It's a Sunday, and the open swim is from 12:30pm-5pm that day. The plan is to just enjoy swimming with our babies, and nurse them in public view at the pool whenever it is needed.

Coming from I-205 (north or south) take the state route 500 heading west. Go past Vancouver Mall, and turn left onto Falk Rd., you will soon see a school on your left. Turn left at the corner past the school - that will be Plomondon. Go past the school and toward the end of the complex, you will see a parking lot on your left and a big sign over the center saying "Jim Parsley Center." Just go in and go past the pool to the desk toward the back (by the rock climbing wall) and pay, then head to the dressing rooms and on in. I recommend the women's room as opposed to the family room, which is tiny and cramped.

Hope to see you all there!

here is the info/link:
Jim Parsley Center
2901 Falk Road, 696-8219 (the parking lot is on Plomondon)

Here's Miriam's story via her letter to the pool staff;

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Mr. Dave Miletich, Manager of Recreation Division August 23, 2003
City of Vancouver
P.O. Box 1995, Vancouver, WA 98668

Mr. Miletich,

I am writing to tell you how upset I am about an incident that occurred to me at the Jim Parsley Center Pool. In no uncertain terms, I was blatantly and repeatedly harassed for nursing my baby in public.

On Wednesday, August 20th, I was swimming at the pool with my four year old and 17 month old sons. During the course of the swim, my baby asked to nurse so I found a spot with about 4-6 inches depth, and sat to nurse my little one. Shortly thereafter, a young lifeguard asked me to leave not only the pool, but the entire pool area and to "do that" with my baby in the dressing rooms. And later, when your staff realized there was a law protecting my right to nurse in public in the State of Washington, I was harassed for nursing in the swimming pool for "health reasons", despite the fact that breast milk is not considered a bodily fluid that falls under universal precaution regulations, and that my breasts were at least a full foot above the water line.

When informed that what the lifeguard was doing was violating the law, she called her supervisor, who herself came out several times to try to get me to nurse elsewhere. She also informed us that it was the law that she inform us that they had received complaints, and that a group from the YMCA was there and that the parents of these kids hadn't been given the choice of whether or not to shield their kids from "this." ("This" being the natural, human way that God intended us to feed our babies.) Instead, they felt it was within their rights to completely and utterly ignore my own human rights and further to violate my civil rights to nurse. I am deeply offended and angered by this blatant and illegal misconduct by your staff. And by their continued refusal to even apologize once for violating the law and my civil rights in the first place.

This whole thing is utterly appalling, not to mention completely illegal in the US, and especially in the State of Washington which has specific laws protecting my right to nurse in public and excluding me from public indecent exposure laws. I was nursing with a full-sized T-shirt over my bathing suit for maximum coverage, yet still I was harassed.

Additionally, asking me to remove myself from the chlorinated clean pool area, and to take my baby into the dressing rooms, which are rampant spawning grounds for germs, is akin to me asking you to go eat your lunch in a swimming pool dressing room.

Personally, I would like a public, formal, written apology for the violation of my rights. I would like to see signs up indicating that you support Washington State Laws regarding breast feeding (i.e. "Breast feeding mothers are welcome"). I would like at least one bench up and available near the pool to breast feeding women, which would allow them to continue to watch any older children they might have still in the pool, while nursing their baby(ies). I would like a promise that no mother will again be asked to "take it to the dressing rooms", *especially* brand new mothers, whose confidence and desire to breast feed could be severely injured as a result of this type of incident. Lastly, I would like the entire swim staff educated in Washington State Laws and CDC and America Academy of Pediatrics health policies regarding breast feeding so that no other unfortunate mother simply trying to feed her child must go through this awful and degrading experience.

I truly hope that this was nothing more than an error on the part of the training of your staff, and that you will be able to reassure me that steps are being taken to prevent this from occurring in the future. Please contact me at (360) 896-7293 to assure me of the steps you are taking or plan to take.


Miriam Mason
Breast feeding Mother
Business Owner
Clark County Resident
[email protected]
(360) 896-7293

2,711 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Tanscript from OPB interview:

Vancouver Center Grapples with Public Breastfeeding

By Colin Fogarty

VANCOUVER, WA 2003-10-15 (Oregon Considered) - Breastfeeding is allowed at the Jim Parsely Center pool in Vancouver, Washington. That was unclear when some nursing mothers complained they were being hassled by lifeguards this summer at the community center. The case is a sign of changing views of breastfeeding.

The centerpiece of the Jim Parsely Center is a glass palace of a pool. On one end is a winding water slide for big kids. At the shallow end--really a wading pool--is a smaller slide that shoots through a shipwreck, aimed at charming the smaller children.

Dave Militech is the manager here.

Dave Militech: It's designed so there's something to appeal to all ages. You walk into it like a beach. And its very user friendly for young children. And it's very popular with families.
Colin Fogarty: You know, when I was growing up, there was the high dive.

Dave Militech: Yes, not only do they not have high dives much anymore, but you don't even see any diving boards. For a number of reasons, it just isn't as popular as it was back many years ago.

It was by the shipwreck slide that Lyla Wolfenstein was sitting with a friend in late August watching their children play.

Lyla Wolfenstein: And it's quite comfortable to sit in one inch of water and watch your older child while you breastfeed your younger one. So she did that. Her younger child wanted to nurse so she sat down in the water. And a lifeguard came over very quickly and told her she could go into the dressing room to "do that," as she put it.

The life guard picked the wrong friend of a breastfeeding mother to pick on. Wolfenstein is registered lactation specialist, whose job is to advise and advocate for breastfeeding mothers. She and her friend refused to leave.

Lyla Wolfenstein: And she said, well people are complaining.' And there was a group, a camp group there. And apparently the counselor for the camp had complained about what he considered to be inappropriate material for his children. And again we informed her that if the person was uncomfortable, they had the option of leaving.

And besides, Wolfenstein told the lifeguard, kicking someone out of a public place for breastfeeding is against the law. Washington and Oregon have similar statutes specifically exempting breastfeeding from public indecency laws.

The incident so angered Wolfenstein and other breastfeeding advocates that a month later, they staged a "nurse in" at the Jim Parsely Center pool.

Lyla Wolfenstein: Not to do anything aggressive, but just to have a gentle peaceful presence there of women who would normally breastfeed their babies in the pool anyway. Immediately, a lifeguard approached one of the moms and said they had an in-service that morning telling them that mothers were not allow to breastfeed in the pool.

By now the issue had reached the top managers at the Jim Parsely Center. The city attorney for Vancouver got involved, as did the legal counsel for the school district, which owns the building. Dave Militech says after a meeting, the pool managers realized the law and the research are pretty clear.

Dave Militech: And the other concern that arose was the milk fluid in the water, the pool water itself, should that be any concern at all from a health standpoint? And again the answer is no, there is no concern regarding that, no different from saliva no sweat.

As a result, Militech says the Jim Parsely Center issued a notice to its lifeguards that nursing mothers are welcome to breastfeed in the pool and that the only interference allowed is to offer them a more comfortable spot to do it.

Militech says most lifeguards are young and didn't know how else to handle the situation. And he says just as diving boards fade away, other behaviors at the pool change with the times.

Dave Militech: It's definitely one of those issues in society where there is more education and more awareness and people do understand it is an appropriate thing to be able to do. As we look at all that from a holistic standpoint, we want health and wellness to really be a key ingredient of why we offer these facilities and these programs.

For her part, Lyla Wolfenstein is pleased, calling the new guidelines at the Jim Parsely Center a model for other pools.

Lyla Wofenstein: You know it's interesting, in a way I saw it as an opportunity more than as something to get enraged about. You know I think the more people know about breastfeeding, the more normal we can make the public perception about breastfeeding, the better supported women will be.

The city of Vancouver is building a new pool on the east side of town similar to the one at the Jim Parsely Center. Militech says he still expects to get complaints, but he says those customers can get a pass to come back later if they want.

© Copyright 2003, OPB

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