June 24, 2009
To Whom it Concerns:
I am so sad and upset about the way this was handled today. I would encourage you, as an organization, to read the State of Texas policy on breastfeeding, which states:
Tex. Health & Safety Code § 165.001 et seq.
1995 Tex. ALS 600; 1995 Tex. Gen. Laws 600; 1995 Tex. Ch 600; 1995 Tex. HB 359
Chapter 165. Breast-Feeding
Subchapter A. Breast-Feeding Rights and Policies
Sec. 165.001. Legislative Finding
Sec. 165.002. Right to Breast-Feed
A mother is entitled to breast-feed her baby in any location in which the mother is authorized to be.
To ask a woman to go to a private room just doesn’t make sense, especially in a setting where most mothers are watching their older children as well. The fact that I was there with friends has no bearing on what your policy SHOULD be: to allow a woman to feed her child wherever she deems fit.
It is disappointing that you see breastfeeding as offensive. The health benefits of breastfeeding, for both mothers and babies, has been so well established that the American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends that all babies be breastfed for at least one year. The World Health Organization recommends doing so for at least two years. In the United States, our national average length of time for a baby to be breastfed is six weeks.
The fact that we deprive American babies of the best possible nutritional and immunological support can be attributed directly to the attitudes of people like your two staff members today, who attempt to make women feel that breastfeeding is something to hide.
I was too upset today to ask for my money back on my way out. I paid for three admissions. I will not return to your museum until you develop a written policy supporting the rights of breastfeeding mothers, and until you educate your staff and volunteers. I will tell every mother I know about this incident. Word is already spreading. What happened today gives off the strong impression that your museum is NOT a family-friendly destination. I hope that this isn’t true. I look forward to hearing from you about this incident.
Thank you for your email and for speaking with me regarding breastfeeding at the McKenna Children’s Museum. I wanted to let you know that the Museum’s breastfeeding policy is now in writing and states that under Texas law, a mother is entitled to breastfeed her baby in any location in which the mother is authorized to be. McKenna Children’s Museum welcomes mothers who want to breastfeed in the Museum. McKenna Children’s Museum has a privacy area available or mothers may breastfeed in any public location of the Museum. If a patron complains about a mother who is breastfeeding, Museum staff will kindly explain that breastfeeding is permitted in the Museum pursuant to Texas law and suggest to that customer that he or she relocate to another section of the Museum. All staff have been informed and educated about this policy.
We hope you will visit us soon.
Alice Jewell, Director
McKenna Children’s Museum