The news of Mount Logan Middle School in Utah just picking on a breastfeeding mother and child has spread like wildfire on social media. A peaceful protest, or nurse-in, of their discriminatory, unlawful actions is taking place at the school Thursday, July 17th at 11:30am.
Mount Logan Middle School hosted a federally sponsored summer food program for children ages 1 to 18. Andrea Scannell was nursing her infant daughter, Terra, while her 3 year old received the free lunch, as she’d done a few times this summer already. During one of her visits earlier this month, Andrea received this letter from an employee and told to open it, that it was about her breastfeeding. What did she find? This letter below, telling her to be discreet, to cover up or move.
Perhaps you are wondering what prompted such a letter. This is how Andrea looks breastfeeding.
[Andrea meeting her child's needs. How is this in any way immodest?]
I would definitely consider her style of breastfeeding discreet. But even if she looked different the day she was flagged, prompting a letter from the authority figurehead on public modesty on the campus, the only definition of modesty that matters is that of the mother. If her child doesn’t like feeding under a cover, no one should demand it. If the mother doesn’t want to carry around a spare blanket during the summer, no one should shame her for it. The breastfeeding laws in Utah make no mention of subjective terms such as modesty or require covering.
What is the breastfeeding law in Utah?
Utah Code Ann. § 17-15-25(1995) states that city and county governing bodies may not inhibit a woman’s right to breastfeed in public.
Utah Code Ann. § 76-9-702 and § 76-10-1229.5 state that a breastfeeding woman is not in violation of any lewdness, obscene or indecent exposure laws. (HB 262)
What do those laws mean? If the city and county cannot make laws restricting mothers, one little middle school cannot ask a mother to cover up or move either. The law also makes it perfectly clear that breastfeeding is in no way obscene and shouldn’t be treated as such. Utah families would really benefit from an enforcement provision though, something that can really help families stand up for their children’s basic human right to eat.
I suppose this principal forgot to Google the breastfeeding law before typing up this discriminatory letter. Our infants and young children have the right to eat without breathing recirculated air or being subject to heat exhaustion, just the same as everyone else. Our mothers need our support for doing what is recommended by our health organizations, heck, even the Pope, not denigration. Utah ranks #14 in the US for babies ever breastfed, with only 83.1% of babies ever fed their mother’s milk at birth. Breastfeeding is hard to do without community support. Breastfeeding in public is a necessary part of feeding on cue and adding stress damages a mother’s supply, possibly cutting her breastfeeding relationship off short, robbing a child of their mother’s milk and all of the benefits breastfeeding provides.
What should we teach our children about what babies eat?
When adults say they’re just trying to protect the children from the sight of a breastfeeding mother, it makes me wonder about what they think they’re teaching their children. The norm for our species is this: Babies eat human breast milk from their mother’s breast on cue. It really is that simple. Babies do not eat at scheduled times and since breastfed babies process milk faster than formula fed infant, they need to eat more frequently. How long do babies breastfeed? The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the about first six months of a baby’s life with no additional food or water or substitutes for the short and long term health of the baby and mother. The AAP, along with the World Health Organization and UNICEF, recommend breastfeeding for at least 12 months and then continuing breastfeeding for as long as mutually desired by mother and baby. The WHO recommends breastfeeding along with appropriate complementary foods up to two years of age or beyond.
Breasts are for feeding and there is no shame in it. Does anyone hide the sight of a cat or dog or farm animal feeding their young from their children? No. Even Sesame Street & Mister Rodgers teaches children about breastfeeding. Human breasts are not obscene and Utah state law agrees.
Andrea was doing exactly as she should as a responsible, caring mother, following the recommendations for her baby and meeting their needs.
This isn’t the first incident involving a school bullying a mother and her child for merely breastfeeding. Two that happened recently: Krisdee Donmoyer as harassed in Austin, Texas by AISD and Rachel Rainbolt was discriminated against by the Poway Unified School District in California.
Cindy Brownlee from Alberta also had a similar experience. ”This happened to me too. I was told I needed to either cover up or move to the back of the room in front of a class full of parents. I went as far as the superintendant as she supported the principal!! Her exact words were “if the baby won’t use a blanket, use a bottle.”
It’s sad that mothers are treated this way.
How can you help?
Please contact the principal, Michael Monson, Superintendent Marshal Garrett, and the board members and respectfully inform them of how this mistreatment of a mother and child makes you feel, how they can possibly move forward from this incident. This middle school has a chance to make amends with this mother and do the right thing. Ask that they create a breastfeeding policy that aligns with state law and that they train their staff members to ensure this doesn’t happen again. An animal feeding – breastfeeding awareness class would also be beneficial for the children. Perhaps they could just show the Sesame Street episode where a mother explains that she is feeding her baby from her breast and the Mister Rodgers episode on how animals are fed, including our babies.
Mount Logan Middle School
875 N 200 E, Logan, UT 84321
Superintendent Marshal Garrett, email@example.com
BOARD OF EDUCATION:
President – Mrs. Kristie Cooley, phone 435-752-4862, Kristie.firstname.lastname@example.org
Vice President – Dr. James Blair, phone 435-752-1115, James.email@example.com
Mr. Lynn Hobbs, phone 435-752-3057, Lynn.firstname.lastname@example.org
Mrs. Ann T. Geary, phone 435-753-0157, Ann.email@example.com
Ms. Connie Morgan, phone 435-752-2370, Connie.firstname.lastname@example.org
If you’d like to inform Sean Reyes, Utah’s Attorney general, about the inadequate protection the law provides, to request an enforcement provision, please do so.
GENERAL OFFICE NUMBERS:
OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
Utah State Capitol Complex
350 North State Street Suite 230
SLC UT 84114-2320
Have you ever breastfed at your child’s school? How does this incident make you feel?
Join the conversation on Facebook or comment below.
I have not heard of an apology yet but I have an update on the nurse-in that happened this morning. Although I did not attend, I heard from Andrea and another attendee and mother, Kourtney Rushdi Barney, that the nurse-in went smoothly this morning. Nearly 10 mothers with their children and breastfeeding supporters came out to back Andrea and her child. The local news media also made an appearance, interviewing Andrea, the superintendent, and others.
Andrea shared her thoughts on the nurse-in and the incident with me this afternoon:
“The lunch program is a government funded program that the middle school hosts. It provides free lunches for kids aged 1-18 during the summer. I take my 3-year old and my 6 month old. The 6 month old is my second child. I have been going since they started whenever I can make it so my son can have a meal. I hadn’t gotten any complaints beforehand. I didn’t really notice any looks, either. Of course, i’m focused on my two kids, i’m not looking around the cafeteria trying to make sure no one’s looking. My sister was there with her kids and my husband was there as well. he had just left to take our son to the bathroom and the baby got hungry, so i fed her. as soon as I was done, a worker approached me with a sealed envelope and said “I highly encourage you to read this.” I asked, “Does this have to do with me breastfeeding?” She said, “Just read it, it’s very tasteful.” So I said, “You know this is illegal, right?” and she just said, “Please read it” and left. My sister opened it and read it first. I was very flustered when it was given to me. I just never expected anyone to have an issue with me feeding my baby while everyone is there to feed their children. Why can’t mine eat? I read it and was surprised at the “exposure” assumption. as you can see from the photo, i’m not exposing anything. Even if I was, under the law, no one can ask me to cover up or move.
There was a nurse-in today at the middle school where some local mothers came to support me. About 7-8 women came and we just fed our babies when they were hungry. There were local media reporters that interviewed me and the superintendent who came to represent the school/principal since the principal was out of town. He never approached us, but he was also interviewed by the media. Granted, I never approached him either, but I was busy with my two children, so I didn’t have the time to approach him.
I’m not out to shame the school or the principal. I simply want awareness and for shaming and bullying of breastfeeding women to stop. Utah law has protections but it doesn’t have enforcements. This needs to change. I’m standing up for every breastfeeding mother out there who can’t stand up for herself for whatever reason. There are so many reasons women choose not to breastfeed, but cultural and social implications should not be a factor. There are far too many women who choose not to breastfeed at all out of fear of this kind of treatment. There are others who bend over backwards to avoid breastfeeding in public for the same fears. Women who try to feed before leaving the house, which isn’t always feasible and can mess up a breastfeeding relationship. And others who feel they need to pump and feed a bottle when they’re out which in turn affects their supply. I’m putting my face and name out there for these women.”
Here are a few photos from the nurse-in this morning from Kourtney Rushdi Barney:
‘Nurse-in’ held to protest letter given to breast-feeding mom – HJ News