Monday, November 12, 2012

Five Weeks of Waiting

The wait was excruciating.  For five weeks I tried to temper my hope.  I worried, as I still do, each time I am at the school, that my baby would need to be fed.  (Yes, I said I'd nurse him wherever he's hungry, and I have.  But I don't relish the thought of being confronted again.)  I had been given keen advice to go through proper channels, so I waited them out.  A few terse emails were exchanged.  Then, finally, it arrived in my inbox.  An eight-page document on how to manage visitors (sign-in procedure and such), and the note, "The provision in which you have expressed interest is on the last page of the attached policy."

Drum roll, please....

BREASTFEEDING ON
CAMPUS

The District shall provide a parent or visitor who has properly
checked in at a campus during the school day, a place, other
than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from in-
trusion by students, employees, and the public, which shall be
used to breastfeed or express milk.

The principal or designee shall direct the parent or visitor to
the place designated by the principal for breastfeeding or ex-
pressing milk.

A few things seem worth noting.  

1. Five weeks is a long time to reproduce essentially the same practice, barely edited, as I was emailed to begin with.

2.  This is still a violation of the rights of nursing mothers and babies.  It still violates the law.

3. It says where a mother can breastfeed.  It does not say where a mother cannot breastfeed.  Still, one implies the other.  I was given verbal confirmation that I cannot breastfeed anywhere but the provided private room.

4. When I wait for my son to finish speech, I am not required to sign in to wait for him in the lobby.  Nor would I need to sign in to pick up my older son outside after school.  Hmm...   

5. This policy is more inflexible than the unwritten practice had been, or at least it could be perceived that way.  Where before
a principal had "discretion to identify a suitable location on campus for such activity," now "The principal or designee shall direct the parent or visitor to the place designated."  "Shall direct" seems more rigid than "discretion to identify."  In that light, rather than choosing to support breastfeeding mothers and uphold the law, it is a step backwards.  

4 comments:

  1. "shielded from view"? LOL. Heaven forbid if children see a baby at the breast, they might learn that we're mammals and that breasts are not for selling cars?!?

    Whoever wrote this letter needs to see more breastfeeding and lots of it. Think about it, if they'd grown up seeing breastfeeding every day of their lives, they wouldn't be so weird about it.

    Good for you for standing up for your rights!

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  2. In their own statement it indicates that the goal is to protect the mother's right to privacy, not the on-gawkers right to walk away.

    "free from intrusion by students, employees, and the public"

    It also indicates that this applies to parents and visitors who have checked in, and might appreciate this service (not a duty). If you haven't checked in, and haven't requested the service, it is none of their business.

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    Replies
    1. Agreed. But as I do frequently check in to volunteer, and I sometimes visit my son at lunch. As do many mothers. We must be able to do so without having to submit to discrimination if our babies need feeding. :)

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