These days, it is becoming more and more common for mothers to be shamed for breastfeeding. While some of the country seems to be coming around, and campaigns like #freethenipple are becoming increasingly common, women who breastfeed in public are still sometimes looked down upon. Take for example this mom shamed for breastfeeding baby at a Boy Scouts meeting in Tennessee, who was criticized for her actions — even though she was following the rules.
According to Fox 17 News, the mom, Jasmine Millar was breastfeeding her 1-year-old son at a Boy Scouts meeting at a local church. Millar was sitting behind all of the scouts and nursing using the "two shirt method" — which involves wearing a nursing tank under your shirt. By pulling your regular shirt up and your nursing tank down, everything is concealed. But one female scout leader was reportedly not too happy with it and approached Millar once she was done breastfeeding.
"She told me I was being inappropriate and continued to shame me," Millar claimed. "She told me if I wanted to continue feeding, I needed to leave or bring a blanket to cover myself."
Luckily for Millar and moms who live in 49 states across the nation, breastfeeding in public is perfectly legal. Technically, Millar was protected by law — not that that stopped what allegedly happened later.
Yes, breastfeeding moms are protected under the law, even in more conservative states like Tennessee. According to the National Conference of State Legislators, 49 states including the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands have laws that "specifically allow women to breastfeed in any public or private location." Hell yeah. 29 of those states (including Tennessee) exempt breastfeeding from public indecency laws. The only state where breastfeeding isn't protected is Idaho. So Millar was completely in the right for breastfeeding in public — because the law protects her right to do so.
But Millar's story gets worse. After calling the Boy Scout headquarters and explaining to them that her rights had been violated, Millar claimed that she was told "she was in the legal right and a letter would be sent to all parties." However, instead of receiving a friendly pass, Millar said she received a letter from her local Boy Scout chapter that, once again, reportedly scolded her for breastfeeding.
"When you choose to nurse your baby uncovered and/or in the same room as the scouts, it causes disruption," Vance Lackey, Director of Field Services for the Boy Scouts of America's Middle Tennessee Council, wrote in a letter, which was posted publicly to photo hosting site Imgur and has since gone viral. Romper has reached out to Lackey and the Middle Tennessee Council for comment and is awaiting a response.
"Some young boys do not fully understand about breastfeeding," Lackey reportedly continued in the letter. "... We ask you to please help find a compromise which will help all feel more comfortable."
In a statement to Nashville Fox affiliate WXMI, Lackey later stated,
Scouting members are always encouraged to treat all people in a courteous manner. We are continuing to evaluate this matter, and will treat all parties with dignity and respect. Though the BSA does not have an official policy or a position on this matter, our intent is to facilitate an amicable resolution to this matter for the benefit of the Scouting unit.
Unfortunately, while the the BSA's argument may be rooted in what's "best" for all parties, shaming moms for breastfeeding is more common than you would expect and always detrimental. Just one week ago a mother in Indiana found a photo taken of her breastfeeding her son in a restaurant and posted on to a stranger's Facebook page without her consent. This picture prompted hundreds of strangers to comment and shame the mother on the internet for breastfeeding in public. "I was really very hurt by this act, because I was in no way bothering him, so what gave him the right to shame me?" mom Conner Kendall told People in a statement.
While breastfeeding is protected under the law, it is a shame that strangers feel the need to make comments about it to mothers who are just trying to feed their babies and not cause any harm by doing so. Certainly in this case, with the law on her side, Jasmine Millar was in the right.