Staff members at the YMCA in Lexington, Kentucky broke state law last week when they told a mother and child they needed to cover up and only breastfeed in the bathroom or locker room. Katherine Warfield Graves Ordonez shared the incident with me:
What is Kentucky’s breastfeeding law?
Ky. Rev. Stat. § 211-755 (2006) permits a mother to breastfeed her baby or express breast milk in any public or private location. Requires that breastfeeding may not be considered an act of public indecency, indecent exposure, sexual conduct, lewd touching or obscenity. Prohibits a municipality from enacting an ordinance that prohibits or restricts breastfeeding in a public or private place. (2006 SB 106)
The full version of the law:
211.755 Breast-feeding permitted — Municipal ordinances not to prohibit or
restrict — Interference prohibited.
(1) Notwithstanding any other provision of the law, a mother may breast-feed her
baby or express breast milk in any location, public or private, where the mother
is otherwise authorized to be. Breast-feeding a child or expressing breast milk
as part of breast-feeding shall not be considered an act of public indecency
and shall not be considered indecent exposure, sexual conduct, lewd touching,
(2) A municipality may not enact an ordinance that prohibits or restricts a mother
breast-feeding a child or expressing breast milk in a public or private location
where the mother and child are otherwise authorized to be. In a municipal
ordinance, indecent exposure, sexual conduct, lewd touching, obscenity, and
similar terms do not include the act of a mother breast-feeding a child in a
public or private location where the mother and child are otherwise authorized
(3) No person shall interfere with a mother breast-feeding her child in any location,
public or private, where the mother is otherwise authorized to be.
Clearly, these YMCA employees directly broke the law and interfered with Katherine and her baby’s basic human and legal right to breastfeed. Why are there laws to protect breastfeeding families? Because breastfeeding, the biological norm, has been recognized as critically important for our species by all of the major health organizations. When mothers are shamed for doing what is recommended, it hurts their chances of meeting their own breastfeeding goals, results in unnecessary expenses and health concerns, and considering Kentucky has the second lowest breastfeeding rate in the entire United States according to the CDC’s 2014 Breastfeeding Report Card, this YMCA in Lexington needs to stand up and support moms instead of denigrating them.
The executive director apologized to Katherine and promised to train staff. However, continued mistreatment and unlawful action against mothers and children by a major organization is unacceptable. Why can’t YMCA train staff nationwide?
How can you help?
Contact the offending YMCA location and let them know how their appropriate response is appreciated. Contact corporate and respectfully inform them of your disapproval of these repeated offenses nationwide. Feel free to suggest that they send out a nationwide memo to inform all staff of the law, promise to update their employee handbook to include proper breastfeeding handling, employee training upon hire, and put up the international breastfeeding logo in all gym front doors, just like Barnes & Noble did. These are simple, honest, easy steps to try to prevent this from happening at any of their facilities again.
3251 Beaumont Centre Cir, Lexington, KY 40513
Contact information online.
Email Diane Nicely District, Executive Director: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dominique Beard, Youth & Family Director: email@example.com
Facebook - Twitter
Or contact corporate headquarters:
800-872-9622 Domestic | 312-977-0031 International
Feedback site: http://apps.ymca.net/contact-us/site-feedback.html
I personally would love to see the international breastfeeding logo in all YMCA locations nationwide, just as Barnes & Noble did earlier this year, and this poster. I am certain mothers would appreciate the support, in turn helping raise the breastfeeding rates, and others would be reminded to follow the law.
[Poster by Family Friendly Business]
What do you think of this mistreatment of Katherine and her infant? How do you think the YMCA should respond to this incident?
If you experienced discrimination while breastfeeding at a pool or YMCA, please fill out this survey at Survey Monkey.
- Search my archives for recent nursing in public incidents
- North Carolina YMCA offered breastfeeding mother a seat by the toilet - Paa.la
- Apology Issued after breastfeeding harassment incident at Two Rivers YMCA - Paa.la
- Breastfeeding Incident at YMCA Pool in Wisconsin - Paa.la
- Video: “Everybody’s Gotta Eat” – Free The Nipple PSA - Paa.la
- What’s So Hard About Covering Up to Breastfeed in Public? - Motherhood and More
- I Was Harassed for Nursing in Public (NIP) what do I do? - Best for Babes
- 50 Reasons for Breastfeeding Anytime, Anywhere – PhD in Parenting
- Breastfeeding Posters - Paa.la
- Every argument against NIP debunked – Paa.la
- Nursing with Discretion: What really matters - Paa.la
- The Pope Supports Breastfeeding in Public – Paa.la