Employees of the Greater Boston YMCA will undergo training regarding a 15-month-old breastfeeding law in Massachusetts. The education push comes after a worker at one of its locations told a mother to stop nursing her child because it violated the Y's policy against eating in a child-care facility. State legislation protects mothers who breastfeed in public, stating that a woman "may breastfeed her child in any public place which is open to ... the general public," and where the mother and child are lawfully present.
"The employee misinterpreted this as a public health issue," Kelley Rice, vice president of the Greater Boston YMCA, told The Boston Globe. "It is not. We support a woman's right to breastfeed in our facilities." The employee, who was not identified, has been disciplined, according to a Y spokesperson.
"Breastfeeding is not the same as opening up a lunch box with apples, bananas and crumbs that are going to fall onto the floor," said Marsha Walker, a board member of the Massachusetts Breastfeeding Coalition, which pushed for passage of the state law in April 2009.
Meanwhile, the mother, Elizabeth Gomez, told reporters she does not plan to file a complaint. Instead, she wrote an open letter that was posted on The Stir, a blog for moms, urging the Y to make a national effort to provide education and training regarding breastfeeding issues. "Upon researching this issue ... I have come across numerous incidents that have made the news regarding the YMCA and breastfeeding in recent years," she wrote.
The Y isn't the only place nursing mothers have encountered challenges. Breastfeeding also has been an issue at the University of Wisconsin's Camp Randall Stadium and Dell Diamond, home of the minor-league Round Rock (Texas) Express.