Breastfeeding Mom Harassed at Public Pool Despite Topless Law


breastfeeding at beachIn Norwalk, Ohio, Chrissy Houtz had a stranger take a picture of her while she was nursing her newborn son at the city pool, and they passed it around like a "wanted poster." She was harassed and told to stop, but after speaking with Ken Leber, the Norwalk Parks and Recreation Superintendent, who promised to retrain employees to uphold Ohio state law which protects her rights, she thought she could go back to the pool and nurse in peace.

She was wrong.

Again, Houtz breastfed her now 1-year-old son Moses at the pool and, again, was harassed. Several families apparently complained, saying it was "disgusting." Funny enough, Ohio law not only allows breastfeeding wherever the mom is allowed with the baby, but they've got a law which you would think would make this topic totally moot.

They allow women to be topless anywhere men can be.

It appears some cities choose not to uphold that particular law, but alas, it's on the books. Women's breasts were declared "not private parts," meaning they don't fall under any indecent exposure laws.

But even in other states, there are specific sentences in the laws excluding breasts bared for the purpose of breastfeeding from public indecency. So no matter what, this behavior is legal. And like our own Amy Keyishian said, well, you're going to see way more breasts on Seattle's Naked Cycling Day than you will at even a La Leche League meeting ... or three. And that naked cycling day? Also legal. And not just women of childbearing age, but that consists of older men as well. Frankly, I'd much rather stare at some breastfeeding boobs than 60-year-old cyclist butt.

Anyway, I digress. With Ohio's law, even if Norwalk isn't big on enforcing it, a woman breastfeeding at a pool should really garner little to no attention whatsoever, wouldn't you think? Some people are accusing her of having both breasts out the top of her swimsuit, and whether that's true or not I'll never know. She was forced to take down her entire personal blog after the local newspaper linked to it on their own article, spamming her with hate comments and gawkers on a blog about her family, which happened to include a picture of her nursing.

However, as she says in this video for Fox 8 News, she's not about to throw a whole towel over her son's head ... it's not like pools really are a place known for very little skin exposure in the first place, right? And with high temperatures this cruel summer, it's quite likely that she was at the pool to COOL OFF... so really? Putting even a lightweight cover over a baby's head, IF that's what she chose to do, is still likely to be incredibly uncomfortable for the both of them. Heck, even nursing in hot weather can make mom want to hold baby at arm's length. 


It's just ridiculous that on a hot summer day, at a swimming pool where there are likely preteens showing way more skin than this nursing mom, in a state that declares that breasts aren't even private parts, that there'd even be an issue ... not once, but TWICE, for the same woman, at the same pool. At what point do we get over ourselves and realize that babies need hydration, summer is hot and a cover would be miserable for the child, and she's just feeding her baby and, if you DON'T make a big deal out of it, it isn't one?


Are you shocked to see skin at a swimming pool in hot weather? Does it matter if it's a bikini or a baby covering the nipple on the breast?


Image via amileegirl/CafeMom

natural parenting, breastfeeding, in the news


To add a comment, please log in with

Use Your CafeMom Profile

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Comment As a Guest

Guest comments are moderated and will not appear immediately.

angel... angelove8

That is so stupid. I am glad she is fighting back. What a load of crap. I dare someone to mess with me while breastfeeding. 

Wendy Bowers

Don't you just love Ohio?  These backwards hicks don't really care about laws.  

Oh and I did NOT know the law about being topless.  That's neat! 

Melis... Melissa042807

People seriously took her picture without her permission and distributed it behind her back? That, to me, is an even bigger legal issue. If someone did that to me you bet I'd be finding a way to press charges or sue them.

Amanda A. Richey

I am a nursing mom and I do cover up in public. I personally dont want everyone to see my chest, and I dont want to see other womans breasts. I use a nursing cover. If you dont want to be decent and cover up while nursing, turn away from people or go to a private room. This does not mean hide, just have respect for others.

Monica Aschenbeck Mayeaux

How about having some respect for my son who screams bloody murder if he's covered up? You do not have to use a nursing cover to be discreet. I think a nursing cover draws even more attention to the fact that you are nursing but I'm certainly not going to criticize another mother for using one. The same consideration would be nice for those of us who don't use a nursing cover for whatever reason.

jerem... jeremysmom04

Respect for others?! Holy sh*t--try telling that to the men and women baring entirely too much skin at the pool! No, fat dude, I don't want to see you in a speedo. No, teenage girl, I do not want to see you in a too small string bikini. Nursing mother? No problem, and NOT indecent.

And can I just say: naked cycling? EW.

nonmember avatar Anon

I don't know - my sister nurses in public in Ohio and nobody has ever even looked at her funny. She's discreet but does not use a nursing cover. You seem to have a knack for finding the most extreme, rare situation and presenting it as if it's the norm. Either this lady was "letting it all hang out" or this was an extremely unusual situation. Particularly on a beach, people have to know they are gonna see skin. Now for those who think "letting it all hang out" is fine and dandy, I say go live where everyone does that. Personally I think it's rude, whether it's legal or not.

nonmember avatar J Alabi

The funniest part of the story was the reason why they were against her breastfeeding her son: "we didn't want our kids exposed to breastfeeding". Yet you allow these same kids to watch crap like JERSEY SHORE all day and night. "Exposed to breastfeeding" as if it's radioactive or harmful to health. SMDH. Get a clue, you hicks.

Dana Nation

I feel bad for the mom. I know I'd get upset if someone told me to stop nursing my daughter in public. And she has it completely right... teens and others around her were probably showing much much more than she was.
And to not want your children exposed to breastfeeding? Come on! That's the dumbest thing I've heard all week.

nonmember avatar Jen

Here's a thought - if you don't want to look at a mother feeding her child - look away. This woman has been harassed for FEEDING HER KID. Seriously people? They're just boobs. Get over it and stop being so uptight.

1-10 of 81 comments 12345 Last