When a City pool manager told my dear friend Jes to go nurse in the bathroom two weeks ago, I don’t think any of us–him, her, or myself–realized the shitstorm that was about to ensue. The incident made national news, the City issued a formal apology, and there are now new training policies in place to prevent other Grand Junction moms from experiencing breastfeeding discrimination.
So how did we get from there to here? With a little bit of media savvy and a big bit of diplomacy. Below is a step-by-step guide to how we responded to the situation, and we’re sharing it in hopes that this list and these materials might be helpful to other mamas in similar situations.
- SPEAK UP - When the Manager confronted the Mama, she spoke up and explained Colorado state law to him. As the consumer who was paying for our birthday party’s use of the pool area, I also went to the main office and spoke to the Manager. Both Mama and I made sure he understood the law, and he made sure we understood that he wasn’t really concerned about upholding it.
- BE INTENTIONAL -Personally, I think it’s super important to remember that this experience belongs to the mama who was publicly confronted. She may not necessarily want to create a scene or draw broader attention to what just happened. In our case, once the Mama overcame the initial shock and emotion of the incident, she knew clearly that she wanted to turn it into an opportunity to create positive change. She was up for the task, but not everyone will be–and that’s ok.
- SPREAD THE WORD - Just by mentioning the incident to a few friends on Facebook, concerned phone calls began to pour into the City’s Parks and Recreation offices the very next morning, before we even urged families to call and voice their disapproval. Don’t be shy about spreading the word. Thousands of moms in your city or town have breastfed their babies, and many of them would probably love the opportunity to speak up in defense of public breastfeeding.
- WRITE IT DOWN - While the incident is still fresh in your mind, write out a personal statement that describes where you were, what you were doing, who said what to you, and so on. Make sure to include how this experience made you feel. In our case, the City gathered statements from their involved employees as soon as they became aware of the incident, so it was important for us to get the story written down, too.
- SCHEDULE A MEETING - There’s no better way to have dialogue than to…well, have dialogue! Mama Jes visited the City’s Department of Parks & Recreation right away to schedule a meeting with someone to calmly discuss how this incident Continue reading