Mother Banned From School for Breastfeeding

 

One of the posts today on the babywearer forum really upset me, and I wanted to share it with you as an example of why we need further education about breastfeeding (and also to make sure that word gets around about this principal’s actions).  This was posted by one of the babywearer members in response to what happened to a local mom:

This is the mama’s post on a local board:

“I went to my son’s school on Monday. It is Flower Mound high school. I was picking him up and school had been out for 20 minutes and most kids were gone. I asked my son if he remembered to turn in a particular assignment he had previously forgotten to turn in. He said he was going to turn it in the next day, but I told him to take it up to the classroom now and get it there so it does not get forgotten. We walked to the classroom. I had all 5 of my children with me. The teacher was still in there with one other student. My son started digging through his folder for the assignment and the teacher had just had a baby and had a big announcement up with a bunch of pictures so I made small chit chat like telling her the baby was cute, nice name….where did she deliver, ..just ordinary chit chat, while my son was going through the folder. My son then handed her his paper and she started correcting it. I had not planned to stay at all. I had all 5 children with me, the baby had just made a poopoo in his diaper, but I did not want to be rude and cut her off, so we stayed. At this point, there were no other students in there but my own children. Since the baby was fussing so much, I tried to breastfeed him. This is in the classroom with the door shut and only the teacher and my children in there. Eventually, one high schooler came in so I turned to the back of the room so that one student could not see me. He dropped off what he was dropping off and left. Eventually, she finished explaining everything and we left.

Today, I get a call from the principal (and I can see from the caller ID that he had called before) informing me that he found breastfeeding there to be insulting and not appropriate to expose the high schoolers to. He informed me that from now on, I was not welcome in the building and when I arrive, I had to stay in the front office and would be provided with a restroom to breastfeed in private in!! If there is anyone I need to talk to, they would be brought to the front office to visit with me there.

I tried to tell him that in Texas, it is legal for me to breastfeed anywhere and that it is illegal to intimidate someone for breastfeeding, and he told me then get a lawyer if I don’t like it!!!

I got off the phone and have just been bawling. I am angry and humiliated all at once. What would you do?

Oh, and he claimed that he got calls from “many parents” complaining about me. That is sooo bogus! He is completely lying.”

She was banned from her son’s school building, besides the front office and office bathroom, because she nursed her baby. Discreetly, in an almost empty classroom, after school hours. The state of Texas has a law to protect nursing mothers.

Here is the exact law:

Tex. Health & Safety Code § 165.001 et seq.
1995 Tex. ALS 600; 1995 Tex. Gen. Laws 600; 1995 Tex. Ch 600; 1995 Tex. HB 359
Chapter 165. Breast-Feeding
Subchapter A. Breast-Feeding Rights and Policies
Sec. 165.001. Legislative Finding
The legislature finds that breast-feeding a baby is an important and basic act of nurture that must be encouraged in the interests of maternal and child health and family values. In compliance with the breast-feeding promotion program established under the Federal Child Nutrition Act of 1966 (42 U.S.C. section 1771 et seq.), the Legislature recognizes breast-feeding as the best method of infant nutrition.
Sec. 165.002. Right to Breast-Feed
A mother is entitled to breast-feed her baby in any location in which the mother is authorized to be

Originally, the poster was calling for letters to be written on the mama’s behalf, but since then the Lewisville ISD has released this statment:

“”The Lewisville ISD will fully comply with State law regarding the right of mothers to nurse a baby in any location in which the mother is authorized to be. We apologize for any inconvenience our miscommunication may have caused. We will inform all the principals of this law and also the District’s official position.”

I am so appalled by this, on so many levels.  Yes, asses were covered, offical appologies were given, the principal will be scolded.  But in the meantime, this mother was humiliated and discriminated against for feeding her baby.  She went out of her way to be discrete (which, again, why should she have to hide in the corner to nurse, as if she is doing something wrong).  This is a big-scale example of the attitudes that many moms deal with on a daily basis when they try to breastfeed in public.  The message is clear:  it may be the healthiest thing you can do for you and your baby, but it’s shameful, disgusting, and wrong, so do it in the privacy of your own home.  Preferably in a closet, with the lights out.  Or better yet, the bathroom (since that’s apparently where people feed their babies these days).  How is this mom supposed to explain this to her other children?  Will they grow up being supportive of breastfeeding?  Will they now feel uncomfortable when she tries to nurse in public?  I can just imagine the coversations they are having at their house right now.

The principal wouldn’t have even thought to say anything to her if she had been bottle feeding.  Of course not, you say, that’s completely different.  You say, that’s not the point.  That’s exactly the point.  The point is that bottle feeding is the accepted norm, the point is that our society still promotes images of bottles but not ones of breastfeeding, the point is that breastfeeding is treated as offensive, shameful, and pornographic.   The point is that it’s time to change.

This shouldn’t have ever been allowed to happen.

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6 Responses to “Mother Banned From School for Breastfeeding”


  1. 1 Cass October 1, 2009 at 5:21 pm

    mmmm, if i lived in Texas I’d be organising a nurse-in with a breastfeeding Mother in every classroom all day every day for a week. Guess the principal should be glad I don’t live in Texas, cuz I’d be the one in HIS OFFICE!

  2. 2 Azucar October 1, 2009 at 5:39 pm

    Why can’t this ever happen to me while nursing my babies? I have the acid tongue to be able to defend myself. Mothers shouldn’t have to defend themselves, fundamentally, but since we live in a ridonculous culture, wouldn’t it be great if they picked on someone who would make them wish they’d never been born?

    I think so.

  3. 3 mamajade October 1, 2009 at 10:00 pm

    This is how I feel, too. I would *love* to stage a nurse in at the school, I would love to join you in his office, I would love it if all of us breastfeeding mothers could challenge every single person like him until things like this just don’t happen anymore.

  4. 4 Katie October 3, 2009 at 12:20 pm

    Ok, I’m all for breastfeeding, and all for being free to feed your child anywhere you are when child needs fed. I was KILLED when it became obvious that my daughter was never going to latch on properly, and HATED switching to formula 4 months in, but expressing and bottle-feeding all breastmilk,(which was a constant 3-hour rotation of expressing, cleaning pump parts, washing bottle parts, then feeding and tending the girl until the beginning of the next rotation,) was not letting me do ANYTHING else, so I had to make a choice. All that said. . .I’m posting the devil’s advocation.

    EVERYONE is supposed to be free to choose what they feel works best for them. ANYONE who prefers the formula method is allowed to choose that, for whatever reasons they choose it. For many, the reasons are prudish, even ignorant by our standards. . .for some, the reasons are more like mine. . .but we are no more free to judge them than they are to judge us. Which is to say WE ARE ALL FREE TO JUDGE.

    So we have a demographic in our society that really doesn’t appreciate the notion that their kids may come home with a story about having seen a baby being breastfed in their classroom after school. If they are particularly sheltering parents, that kid will have a busload of questions their parents don’t want to be pressured into answering by some stranger they’ve never even seen. I don’t know that I see that as particularly unfair.

    Now, there’s no question the principal at the high school in question was wrong, and that the mother feeding her child is NOT. But two wrongs don’t make a right. It isn’t any more justified to try to force folks who are uncomfortable with the sight of a semi-topless woman in a teenage-hormone infested forum, (or any other public situation for that matter,) to GET comfortable or get sued or something. Her rights are protected under the law, her rights were defended for her when she didn’t know how to defend them for herself, and I really don’t see how more could be expected. I’m sorry this woman felt so humiliated and oppressed, but the fact is, she didn’t HAVE to feel that way! She KNEW she was in the right, and that the principal was being and ignorant prig; she could have used that knowledge to blow off his crap, like one of the other comment posters here. Frankly, I’m kinda surprised to hear that a mother of 5 has gotten that far with such a thin skin, bless her heart and soul.

  5. 5 mamajade October 5, 2009 at 9:33 pm

    Katie,

    I’m sorry it has taken me so long to respond to your comment. With Jayden getting sick, it has been a little crazy around here the last few days. (Also, if I’m a little rambly, lack of sleep may play a big part.)

    I’d like to start off by saying that after I cooled off from my initial anger reaction, I realized that staging a sit in would not really be fair to the other teachers and students who were trying to learn, and might not feel the same way the principal did. Just because *he* felt that way does not mean that *everyone* there felt that way.

    That said… yes, I agree, that everone has the right to make choices, and I am certainly not against people who decide to formula feed for whatever reason, whether it’s something like your case, or a mom that has to go back to work, or whatever the reason. That’s their decision, and this was NOT about bottles vs breast, other than me saying that it should be okay either way. I have tried to be sure in my posts to make it understood that I certainly don’t think it’s my place to make that call for another family–or judge them for that. Yes, I think breastfeeding is awesome, yes I think all the extra benefits are pretty neat and interesting and want to share them, yes I feel strongly about changing attitudes surrounding breastfeeding, but that does not mean I am downing folks who end up doing things another way.

    That has been my point all along: that we, as a society, need to get to the point that mothers can feel comfortable in whatever choice they make. Parents shouldn’t be freaked out by their kid seeing someone nurse a baby, it should be a nonissue. You said (here? On FB? I don’t remember) something about how it should be different, but it’s not, it shouldn’t have happened, but it did, so basically we have to deal with it. (I know that’s not exactly what you said, but that was what I heard.) I disagree. I think that when we see things that need changing, we need to work on changing them. We need to voice our opinions, raise awareness, work on social change, becuase that’s the only way things get any better. Perhaps I feel that way because so many areas of my life are something that I have to fight for, but whatever the case I can’t hear of things like this (or experience similar things) without calling out for a change.

    (See, now I’m rambling and have lost my train of thought, I really should have waited until I was more coherent, but I was afraid that day would never come.)

    As for the mother… I can totally see why she would be angry and humiliated. I can see that because when someone tells me I should go nurse in the bathroom, or gives me dirty looks for latching on wherever I am, I feel angry and embarrassed. And also completely frustrated. And yes, I can stand up for myself, yes there are laws in place to protect me (thank God), but that doesn’t change the fact that we have work to do, people. There will always be jerks that stick their noses where it doesn’t belong and pass judgements where they shouldn’t, but shouldn’t we work on lessening that? And I repeat: what about the mothers who *don’t* have thick skin, who *don’t* have support for breastfeeding, who want to make the choice to breastfeed, but then face all this negativity? It’s enough to seriously discourage people from breastfeeding, and that’s not okay.

    Okay, I’m giving up my argument for now. I do want to thank you for playing devil’s advocate, it’s always interesting and I always appreciate the feedback.


  1. 1 Twitter Trackbacks for Mother Banned From School for Breastfeeding « Strained Peas (and other messes) [mamajade.wordpress.com] on Topsy.com Trackback on October 1, 2009 at 5:45 pm

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