Mom Kicked Off School Grounds After Breastfeeding in Front of 5th Graders

breastfeeding momMom Maegan Shoemaker, 25, was breastfeeding her 8-month-old daughter Arya in the bleachers at Plew Elementary School in Niceville, Florida. And while Niceville seems so quaint and the kind of place where everyone is sugary sweet to each other, that wasn't the case here. Shoemaker was there during her niece's fifth graders Mile Club event, a weekly track run. Many other parents were there showing support for their kids, too. But because some people get upset about the sight of a woman breastfeeding, of course complaints were made to the principal, which in turn started an argument that snowballed into Shoemaker being kicked off the school grounds for the rest of the school year.

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Things certainly aren't always nice in Niceville.

This whole thing didn't have to happen. The parent who complained about a woman breastfeeding didn't have to complain. Despite the best efforts of so many, breastfeeding offends people because people see a breast and automatically think something sexual. Side-note: Doesn't that say more about the person complaining? Dirty mind.

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Principal Carolyn McAllister, who I am going to assume was just trying to keep the peace, asked Shoemaker to "use discretion around the kids." McAllister said she "never told her she couldn't breastfeed." In fact, McAllister said she breastfed her own kids and supports the teachers in her school who need time to pump. This makes me feel for the principal. She was put in a bad spot. Some of the kids may be distracted, but it's not their fault, it's their parents who should teach them that it's natural. Maybe some of these kids never saw a woman breastfeeding before. I still firmly believe a woman has a right to breastfeed wherever and whenever baby is hungry. But a little compassion on both sides could have made this story not take the unfortunate turn it did.

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Shoemaker got upset. And I understand that. No one should make a breastfeeding mother feel what she is doing is wrong. It turned into a she said/she said situation where McAllister said Shoemaker became "hostile" and she is no longer allowed to be on school grounds. McAllister said:

That is a classroom situation and anything that disrupts a class becomes my concern. 

She was hostile. She was not in control of herself. She was belligerent. She upset my secretaries to the point that they were calling the resource officer.

Shoemaker insists that she wasn't hostile. "I wasn’t yelling, and I wasn’t cursing," she said. "I wasn’t coming at her with my body. I wasn’t backing down and I was standing my ground, but I wasn’t violent."

Moms being told to stop breastfeeding in public places isn't anything new -- it happens far too often and it shouldn't. I would imagine that Shoemaker is aware of the discrimination we face as nursing mothers. She had a right to be upset, to make sure others knew her rights, her baby's rights. And now, as a direct result of her breastfeeding, she cannot support her niece at school events anymore. This is wrong. It sends the wrong message. The parents who complained need to be educated, and I wish the principal did just that. I wish they could have all talked it out. Now the school is being distracted by this bigger issue. It didn't have to come to this. But hindsight teaches a lot. I'm hoping Shoemaker's restriction from entering school grounds is lifted. Perhaps Niceville needs a lesson in being nice to breastfeeding moms.

What do you think of this situation? Should Shoemaker be allowed back on school property?

 

Image via Jacob Botter/Flickr

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