4450 Wisconsin Ave, NW
Ed. Note: I’ve no doubt this incident will evoke a passionate response. I just ask that folks please be respectful in doing so. You can say what you wish without insulting the OP or the library staff. Thank you.
Yesterday at about 330 pm I was sitting in the children’s section of the DC Public Library Branch in Tenleytown next to a shelf of board books for small children. I was nursing my son, as I have several times before there, and reading a book as he was starting to fall asleep.
A woman, who later identified herself as a library assistant, came over to me and said she wanted to “warn” me that “adolescent boys were on their way to the library since school was getting out”, and they were “not used to seeing women breast feed and might make fun of you.” She added that I might want to consider this while I was breastfeeding my son in the library.
I was completely stunned. I remained seated, and continued to nurse my son. I stated that I had the right to feed him in the library, and said I was shocked by these unsolicited comments, and would be posting about this online. She said “Why would you want to do a thing like that?” and began to raise her voice. She stated she would have to file “an incident report”. I asked for her name, and she thrust her identity card out and said her name, and then said “You can even talk to my supervisor, but she’s not here today. Why don’t you just take this to the Director of the Library?” I stated that I had a right to breastfeed in the library and that this was feeling very confrontational. She began to raise her voice, and repeatedly said “this is not a confrontation” and “I never said you can’t breastfeed here.”
I’m saddened that someone would feel they had to “warn” me to reconsider feeding my son in front of other children. I continued to feed my son and remained with him asleep in my arms at the library for another 30 minutes. Many kids, families, and yes – adolescents! came by, and not one person said a word.
There are several things that are confusing to me about her “concern”:
1. Why was the library assistant bothering to come over to me, unsolicited, and “warn” me? What was her motive? DC law clearly states women have the right to breastfeed in public places: http://breastfeedinglaw.com/state-laws/district-of-columbia/
2. A library is a sanctuary of information in our society, and it is a beacon against ignorance. It’s all the more shocking to me that my son and I would be treated this way in a library of all places.
3. I also feel her comments really underestimate adolescent kids, who, whenever I have breastfed around them, have never made inappropriate comments.
I’d like for the DC Public Library system, and especially the Tenleytown branch, to review the District’s law on breastfeeding, and ensure all of the District’s mothers have a right to breastfeed in the library without interference from library staff.”