The law in Florida is clear. Nursing mothers may nurse wherever, and however they feel comfortable, but that didn’t stop the employees and owner of New Wave Gymnastics in West Melbourne, Florida from shaming Alex Bale for nursing. In fact, they asked her to cover up or move away to a more secluded place.
383.015 Breastfeeding.—The breastfeeding of a baby is an important and basic act of nurture which must be encouraged in the interests of maternal and child health and family values, and in furtherance of this goal:
(1) A mother may breastfeed her baby in any location, public or private, where the mother is otherwise authorized to be, irrespective of whether the nipple of the mother’s breast is uncovered during or incidental to the breastfeeding.
Florida law goes even further to protect mothers from the kind of harassment, exempting breastfeeding in all forms from its unnatural and lascivious acts law, its sexual conduct laws, and its computer pornography laws. Basically, you could say that a woman’s right to breastfeed is assured in the State of Florida. The one thing that Florida law is missing is penalties for breaking them.
You would think that a business owner in Florida would not blatantly break the law, and then shame the victim. Perhaps it is the fact that there are no “teeth” in these laws protecting mothers that empower certain business owners to do illegal, unethical things to people.
The receptionist, who was not named in the interview, while justifying their illegal actions actually told Alex:
You took your entire Breast out and left it out, exposing much more than you should have
The owner of New Wave, Jasmine Young, compounded the illegal act of her employee with even more insult when she not only backed up the employees but, to Alex’s dismay, Young doubled down with her lack of apology and care that this event even happened. The owner claimed to be trying to accommodate everyone, according to Alex, but was so unmoved by her own staff’s inappropriate comments she instead told the distraught mother she was going to be “asked to leave if she didn’t calm down.”
Even though no one stood up to defend her from the staff, Alex told me that a man leaving apologized to her for having to put up with the harassment:
He basically just said he was shocked they were harassing me. He said he’s seen me nurse before and it’s never bothered him before and didn’t think it was a big deal.
Here is Alex’s Story, in her own words:
We are ten days away from 17 months of nursing. My son loves to nurse. He is a comfort nurser.
Today was the first time in nearly 17 months someone made me feel ashamed for nursing my son in public. It is my right as a nursing mother to nurse where I feel comfortable- no one else’s. If there is a nursing room, or an isolated area, that doesn’t mean I have to go into it to nurse if I don’t want to.
When I took my daughter to New Wave Gymnastics today, a place I have taken her and my son for almost a year, the last thing I expected was to be asked to nurse in an isolated area. ‘No, no, not the bathroom, just the play area or the party room’ is what I was told when I responded with ‘no, I will nurse where ever I am.’
My feelings are so hurt for a number of reasons. I have been taking my daughter here for almost a year and it has never been brought to my attention that anyone was upset with me nursing my son. For nearly a year, every Monday at 4:30.
Was it because he was an infant and now that he’s a toddler it’s ‘unacceptable’?
Is it a new gymnasts parent who is furious that I’d do such a normal thing in public?
I have paid a lot of money into this company, meaning I support it. How can I continue to come and support an establishment that doesn’t support me? ‘Use a cover’, ‘go to a different room’, ‘be more discreet’… These are all suggestions I was given.
You can’t support something and use a ‘but,’ which is what this company was telling me today. They support me to do what I want, but not at the cost of their other patrons. My feelings are hurt that my comfort, and my son’s, was not taken into consideration when someone complained. I have never once been given a side eye, seen someone whisper or had any gut feeling that I was offending someone while nursing my son.
After talking with the receptionist I finally was able to talk with the owner, who didn’t show the slightest bit of concern when I told her I would be withdrawing my son from his gym class & after my daughters last two sessions, she wouldn’t be back either.
‘If you don’t calm down I’m going to ask you to leave’ is what I was told.
‘You took your entire Breast out and left it out, exposing much more than you should have’, is another great line that is burned into my brain right now.
So please, nursing mamas, spread the word New Wave Gymnastics of West Melbourne, Florida will support you, BUT only if you isolate yourself.
The law is clear, breastfeeding is normal, natural, and a woman’s choice. Where she does it, how she does it, and around whom she does it are up to no one but her: period.
No woman should have to deal with this, they shouldn’t have to make complaints to the state, they shouldn’t have to feel ashamed for providing for their child.
I reached out to Ms. Young, who is the owner of record, according to Sunbiz.com, but she has not yet responded to the email. However, before the Facebook page for New Wave was taken down (Yelp is still up though), ostensibly due to the backlash, this was the response they gave regarding this absolutely inexcusable act.
It seems whoever wrote this response is simply not able to comprehend that telling someone they took their breast out and left it out too long (to breastfeed, WOW, who knew “boobs” were used to feed babies?!?) isn’t exactly accommodating. They also seem to forget that asking a woman to go to anyplace she is not in is illegal, you can offer but what they did is called being insistent.
However, because Florida doesn’t have any laws laying out fines, or other civil penalties yet, this abusive kind of behavior could continue.
Featured image via facebook