Protect Breastfeeding Rights at Kingsport Aquatic Center

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Protect Breastfeeding Rights at Kingsport Aquatic Center

This petition made change with 129 supporters!
Danielle Hammonds started this petition to Kingsport, TN Mayor Pat Shull and

On June 2nd 2021, I took my 6 year old daughter and 2 year old son to the Kingsport Aquatic Center. We purchased admission and began to enjoy our time in the pools. While swimming in the heated outdoor pool my son requested to nurse. I sat on the outside edge of the pool with my feet in the water and breastfed him momentarily. A lifeguard on duty, Raven, politely expressed her concern for my breastfeeding in the pool citing the "no food or drink policy." I stated my familiarity with KACs previous actions toward breastfeeding in the water, and I referenced my rights as protected by Tennessee Code Annotated 68-58-101 protecting the right of a mother to breastfeed in any place public or private that she is otherwise authorized to be. 


  Local concern with the rights of breastfeeding mothers at KAC began in the summer of 2016 when Gratia Cash was asked not to breastfeed in the lazy River and again, the "no food or drink" policy was cited. Gratia organized a nurse-in at the facility. In the summer of 2019 another local mother was called out for breastfeeding in the pool, and the same policy was cited. At the time, I was actively serving as the Tennessee State Representative of the Appalachian Breastfeeding Network and requested to meet with the Aquatic Center Director, Kari Matheney, about the importance of protecting the rights of nursing mothers at the facility. We met in June of 2019. The outline of that meeting and correspondence records are attached. I shared information about public breastfeeding laws, rights of nursing mothers, studies on water safety, positions of the La Leche Leauge concerning nursing in pools, and the importance of breastfeeding support to our community. I offered to volunteer my time to assist in the creation of breastfeeding friendly policies, employee training, and creation of a nursing mothers room. Following the meeting, the Kingsport Aquatic Center made no changes and denied any assistance that was offered. 


  Although many remarks have been made by both administrators and staff at KAC concerning the safety of nursing in the pool, whether or not it is necessary, the availability of of additional areas to breastfeed, and the no food or drink policy; the legal right to breastfeed in any place public or private supersedes those discussions. I could argue those points are irrelevant, but the State of Tennessee has already set forth it's stance; therefore it is unnecessary for me to explain. 


  I am requesting immediate action to ensure mothers are no longer called upon at KAC to exit pools while breastfeeding. It is appalling that a city owned facility continues to harass mothers and blatantly disregard TN law regarding public breastfeeding. 

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This petition made change with 129 supporters!

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