Toys R Us Violates Civil Law by Barring Breastfeeding in Store, NYCLU
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Maggie Gram, 212.607.3344 / 845.553.0349 / firstname.lastname@example.org
September 14, 2006 -- The NYCLU today warned the Toys R Us company that it had violated civil rights law by telling a mother that she could not breastfeed her infant in a store.
A saleswoman approached Chelsi Meyerson after she began to breastfeed her seven-month-old son in an out-of-the-way section of the Toys R Us store on 42nd Street in Manhattan, where she was shopping with her family. The saleswoman informed Meyerson that she was not "allowed" to breastfeed in the store unless she moved to the basement, and that her breastfeeding was "inappropriate" because there were "children around." When Meyerson asserted that she was in the right and refused to move, four more store employees harassed her, and the original saleswoman called security.
"Breastfeeding is not a crime, and the right to breastfeed is simply not a right that I am willing to give up," Meyerson said. "This incident was humiliating and dismaying. I'm asking Toys R Us to guarantee that it will never happen again."
The NYCLU sought a meeting with Toys R Us officials; an apology; appropriate compensation for Meyerson; and a written guarantee that Toys R Us would permit breastfeeding in its stores and would train its staff about the policy.
"It's ironic that a store that caters to children would prohibit a mother from doing what is best for her child," said Donna Lieberman, NYCLU Executive Director. "One would think that Toys R Us would have moved past the puritanical notions that this incident reflects."
Added Galen Sherwin, Staff Attorney for the NYCLU Reproductive Rights Project: "This is about public health, not public morality."
Twelve years ago the New York Civil Liberties Union lobbied for and secured the passage of a law that specifically establishes the right of all New York mothers to breastfeed in public. That statute, a section of New York State's Civil Rights Law, provides that "a mother may breastfeed her baby in any location, public or private, where the mother is otherwise authorized to be."
"Prohibiting public breastfeeding is bad public health policy -- and it's also against the law," said Elisabeth Benjamin, NYCLU Reproductive Rights Project Director. "Health care providers and the law agree that families who choose to breastfeed their children should be able to do so whenever and wherever necessary."
Here is a link to the September 14, 2006 letter that the NYCLU sent to Toys R Us. This letter contains citations to the laws that allow breastfeeding in public.
I continue to not understand why so many in American society feels that breasts are only sexual objects. So many young girls, teenagers and women intentionally wear clothing to enhance and draw attention to their breasts as sexual objects by wearing clothing in public that draws attention to their breasts--- why is dressing like that seen as acceptable to so many? Even the way that young pre-pubescent girls wear clothing to draw attention to their breasts (tight t-shirts with tiny font writing across the breast area which invites us to stare there in order to read the message) confounds me, especially given the fact that their MOTHERS and FATHERS are buying this clothing for them and they are making the choices to buy the clothes that draw strangers attention to their daughers breasts or breast-area (if they are still yet undeveloped).
Yet when a mother is using her breasts for God’s intended purpose---breastfeeding a baby---society recoils in disgust. It is very easy to nurse discreetly. Nursing is usually done showing less skin than many women’s typical cleavage-bearing or skin-tight clothing reveals. Discreet nursing practices can be done showing NO skin. I continue to be miffed at the disgust that so many seem to feel toward even seeing a mother breastfeed her baby even when NO breast tissue is being shown, I just don’t understand it.
I think our society needs a complete readjustment about breasts, what they are for and how they should be used. I wish that there was a tolerance and acceptance of breastfeeding in our society. I can’t understand why so many are grossed out by breastfeeding, when frankly I am grossed out at having to look at women who bare their breasts or other body parts (stomachs, navels, hips, buttocks, etc.) in titilating clothing. What bothers me the most is when parents dress their very young children in clothing that no so long ago was worn by street walkers, why oh why would parents want their pre-pubescent girls viewed as sexual objects? Can someone please explain THAT to me?
Here are some tips on how to nurse discreetly, from La Leche League International.
Motherwear is the clothing company whose clothing I found to be of the highest quality and the most stylish, designed for nursing mothers to nurse discreetly. While some styles of regular clothing can be adapted for discreet nursing the fact remains that these nursing tops provide other styles of clothing which allow for more discreet nursing. For example I used to use a special bathing suit made for nursing babies and also I had fancy dresses which I wore to my children’s Christening and to other special events. If you don’t believe that nursing can be done discreetly, look at their online catalog to see real photos of models nursing their own babies while wearing Motherwear clothing. These are not staged photos, all the babies are the models babies and they are really breastfeeding, not just being held in their arms in a posed fashion.
Between my two children I nursed a total of 61 months including in public and never once was given a negative comment or a dirty look by anyone. Sometimes strangers would not realize I was nursing until they stuck their face in my baby’s face and asked me to turn the baby so they could see the baby’s face and I declined explaining that my baby was nursing, at which point they would apologize and draw back quickly.
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