Stouthaus Coffee in Austin has unfortunately made themselves known today for telling a breastfeeding mom to cover up during her recent visit. The mother left a review on their Facebook page and things escalated from there.
Texas Health Code Ann. § 165.002 (1995) authorizes a woman to breastfeed her child in any location. The coffee shop’s discriminatory actions spread like wildfire on social media. Mothers like Stephanie wrote comments and reviews on the cafe’s Facebook page.
You’ll notice the cafe responded above. This was their full response:
While it seems they tried to be understanding, they really missed the mark. Covers are used by some breastfeeding mothers but they are not used by all and they are not necessary for breastfeeding to be acceptable. Many infants and children refuse to use them and let’s face it, they’re hot and just something else to carry around.
Why is breastfeeding a legal right?
Because breastfeeding is not an obscene or lewd act. Nearly every state in the US protects breastfeeding in public and states breastfeeding may not be considered an act of public indecency, indecent exposure, sexual conduct, lewd touching or obscenity. Breastfeeding is for the nourishment and comfort of our children, their basic human right, which is why it’s protected by law and recommended by all of the major health organizations. Using a cover or not is up to the mother and child and no one else. No one should make it their business to interfere with a mother tending to her child’s needs and make it about them, causing embarrassment and possibly damaging the mother’s breastfeeding goals.
How can you help?
If you would like to help stop these repeated acts of breastfeeding harassment and push for Texas get an enforcement provision, a legal consequence for violating the right to breastfeed, contact your legislators and tell them you support HB 232. According to Adam & Krisdee Donmoyer of Keep Austin Nursing in Public, the bill authored by Representative Farrar “will educate business owners that the right to breastfeed exists under current law (helping to end the ignorance) and will make it illegal to violate that right, and will give mothers recourse if they face discrimination.” Wouldn’t it be great if the law made it known that asking a mother to cover up, move, or leave is discrimination, that restricting breastfeeding in a public or private place is strictly prohibited? There would be no questioning the right to breastfeed.
If you can, please attend the Legislative Action Day #2. If you can’t make it you can still contact your legislators. Explore TXBFLeg.com for more information and resources on supporting HB 232 as well as the other important breastfeeding bills.
Have you ever breastfed at this coffee shop or your own local cafe? How were you treated? Does your state have an enforcement provision? Check your state laws!
Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, or comment below.
The owner of Stouthaus Coffee, Sandy Hughes, was interviewed by KXAN news:
“We have breastfeeding mothers in here all the time and I was a breastfeeding mother myself,” explained Hughes. “I have mothers who have been in before and have never had to use a cover up but this occasion was different. In this particular case, the customer was breastfeeding but occasionally the breastfeeding wasn’t happening and she was fully exposed.”
It’s unfortunate that she’s blaming the mistreatment of the mother on the victim instead of taking responsibility and apologizing. I am certain that there isn’t anyone in that coffee shop that hasn’t ever seen a boob before. It’s not a big deal. I would love to see this business owner place a “Breastfeeding is welcome” sticker in their window and become a haven for breastfeeding moms.
**2nd UPDATE 2.25.2015 @ 9:28pm**
More news on the incident. The company owners have shared this public apology on Facebook.
“As the owner and the person who had the actual conversation with our customer, I’d like to sincerely apologize for how this was approached. My hope is to personally contact the mother I offended and offer my her my apology directly.
As a former breastfeeding mother of two, I fully support this practice, covered or not. We are new business owners and have made a mistake that we will learn from and move forward with. I understand that a written apology cannot convey my heart, but we are a husband-and-wife run, “pro-family” business. And we really do love our community, our city and the right to breastfeed openly. Nursing mothers have always been, and will continue to be welcome at Stouthaus Coffee.
Thank you. Sandy Hughes.”
If you’ve left a negative comment or review, please take a moment to revise it or add some positive words of appreciation and encouragement. I have sent them this note:
This was exactly what the public needed to hear. Thank you for telling everyone that you were also a breastfeeding mother and that you and your husband and your employees will always support breastfeeding families. Will you take it a step further and put a “Breastfeeding is welcome here” or international breastfeeding logo sticker in your window? It would be amazing to see that there, every time a mom walked into your shop she’d feel supported.
Best wishes on a thriving business. Perhaps I will stop by on my next visit home.
Stouthaus posted this open letter on their Facebook page:
“An open letter to our community:
When we opened the doors to Stouthaus only five months ago, we wanted to promote three things; coffee, beer, and community. We painted the German word “Stammtisch” on our wall. It roughly translates to “regulars’ table”. To us, it means that our shop is an open place for you, our community, to sit and join us. The beautiful part about community is that it’s alive and ever-changing. While we may make mistakes, we learn from each other and grow because of one another. We want to take a moment to address the parties involved in the events of the last 24 hours.
To our customers; we thank you for all of your continued support. We appreciate that you see us as sincere people who want to provide you with a good experience. We ask that you continue to support us and always feel welcome in Stouthaus.
To the community of mothers in Austin and their supporters; thank you for the passion you have for your cause. Thank you for educating us on a real and concerning issue. We now have a better understanding of the challenges that mothers are faced with while trying to to do what’s right for their children and we are grateful for that.
To Amberly; thank you most of all for voicing your experience. We know that it isn’t always easy to speak up. We sincerely apologize for your experience and we want you to know that you are always welcome in Stouthaus.
As a result of the issues from the last 24 hours, we will be fully embracing this Saturday’s Nurse-In at Stouthaus from 3 – 7:00 PM. We will be providing cupcakes to those who participate. We will also be donating 10% of all of Saturday’s sales to the Mothers’ Milk Bank at Austin. If you would also like to make a donation to the Mothers’ Milk Bank at Austin, visit www.milkbank.org.
James & Sandy Hughes
Stouthaus Coffee Pub”