Saturday, February 2, 2013

Barbara's Speech to the Board

I contacted our local breastfeeding coalition, Central Texas Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition, early on in my efforts with AISD to ask for advice.  Member Barbara Brawn emailed as soon as she heard about my situation to offer her assistance.  In December she tracked down contact information for the SHAC members so that I could email them before the SHAC meeting, which let members know our perspective, and led to an opportunity to speak with a couple of members before the meeting.  The day after that meeting the discriminatory policy was rescinded.  Here is Barbara's speech:
Breastfeeding is universally acknowledged as the healthiest way to feed a baby, but it can be a daunting task.  Lack of support from family and friends, widespread misinformation, and inadequate maternity leave present barriers that can be difficult to overcome.  But according to a recent study, the greatest barrier to successful breastfeeding for 40% of women is concern over nursing in public.  Texas's  law protecting a baby's right to nurse wherever his mother is otherwise authorized to be has been on the books since 1995.  Unfortunately, store managers, school principals, and others in authority still flout the law and ask mothers to breastfeed in private - usually a bathroom, conference room, or other area away from the activity in which the mother is participating.  The usual justification for asking a mother to move is that by breastfeeding her baby, she's making other people uncomfortable.  Having her move out of sight seems like an appropriate compromise, doesn't it?  Not when you realize that the same logic underlay the once common "separate but equal" policies that we now consider morally reprehensible.  In the words of one mother chastised for breastfeeding in a restaurant, "It’s like saying, 'Rosa Parks still has to sit at the back of the bus, but we’ll give her a pillow so she’s comfortable back there.'”  The Texas Legislature recognizes the importance of protecting the rights of mothers and babies to breastfeed anywhere and everywhere they are otherwise authorized to be.  It's time AISD followed the law and did the same.
I just want to say that this quote isn't trying to equate experiences.  It's drawing a parallel, and it means, to me, that we should have learned this lesson not to segregate and discriminate long ago.  

Pusteblumenland, "Breastfeeding (" July 15, 2011 via Flikr, Creative Commons Attribution

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