Monday, February 18, 2008

Normal breastfeeding challenged again.

A mother in Florida stopped by her daughter's school so they could eat lunch together. She breastfeed her other child as they sat at the school picnic table. Can you guess where this one is going?

A teacher and the principal asked the mother to stop breastfeeding. Read the full story:

Here's the letter I e-mailed to the principal, with a copy to his secretary and superintendent.

Dear Dr. Whitney,

I read an article in the online edition of the St. Petersburg Times that disappointed me a great deal. I do hope you offer a sincere and personal apology to Alicia Norris and her children very soon if you have not done so already. If so, thank you.

I understand that a teacher complained about the mother breastfeeding her child at the school and that you and the teacher asked her to stop. While I’m thankful that the law protects the child’s right to breastfeed in public and I appreciate that the school board representative admitted you were “off base” (as reported in the article), it’s still disappointing that this happened.

I hope you realize how important it is to support children’s right to breastfeed in public for the sake of our children’s well-being, and not only for the sake of following the law. As an educator, I’m sure you do have all children’s well-being at the top of your list of priorities. Babies and young children need to eat just as older children and adults do in school cafeterias and elsewhere. Dr. Whitney, please realize that by asking the mother not to breastfeed, you were creating an annoyance for her, but the person you were really hurting was her toddler.

In the article, you said, "I asked her not to do it in front of small children." Dr. Whitney, small children probably see their younger siblings at home being breastfed all the time. If not, they should be exposed to what is biologically normal. I assume that some aspects of health and biology are part of your school’s curriculum and I’m sure that you strive to provide nutritional meals in your school lunches. Would a mother feeding her baby a bottle on your school grounds (contrary to everything science tells us about what’s normal for children’s health, biology and nutrition) have been subjected to the same scrutiny?

Dr. Whitney, I strongly encourage you to not only inform your teachers about the law, but educate them about the importance of breastfeeding (wherever a child is, whenever he needs to eat) for the healthy development of children. Breastfeeding is normal. It is not something to be relegated to bathrooms and closets. What is your plan for educating your staff?

I look forward to your response.

Thanks for
your time,

Breastfeeding mother

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