- OPERATION: Y
"We build strong kids, strong families, strong communities," touts the
YMCA of the USA. It seems that one area they have overlooked in this
goal is to ensure that breastfeeding children and mothers are
welcomed, accommodated and treated with respect. In the past few
months, there have been numerous incidents of breastfeeding
discrimination reported at YMCA facilities in the US.
"YMCAs are working to combat rising levels of obesity and promote
healthy living for millions of Americans through YMCA Activate
America®. Three-fifths of YMCAs (1,525) have committed to this bold
approach to directly address the nation's growing health crisis by
engaging communities across the country to support people of all ages
in their pursuit of well-being in spirit, mind and body." This is a
statement from www.ymca.net, the homepage for YMCA of the USA. The
YMCA should not forget that children who are not breastfed are at
greater risk for becoming obese, and developing diabetes and asthma.
Supporting mothers in breastfeeding their children may be the first
and most effective way to support well-being in individuals and
The YMCA of the USA states "because all communities have different
needs, all YMCAs are different; they are autonomous and separate from
the YMCA of the USA. They are required by the national constitution to
pay annual dues, to refrain from discrimination and to support the
YMCA mission. All other decisions are local choices, including
programs offered, staffing and style of operation." It is clear that
YMCA of the USA needs to be educated about what constitutes
discrimination against a breastfeeding child and mother and be made
aware that there is a problem within their organization.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is this:
Please call your local YMCA (find the nearest facility at
http://www.ymca.net/maps/ ) to inquire whether they have a policy
about women breastfeeding their children in their facility. If you
feel comfortable, ask what the procedure is if a patron should
complain about a mother breastfeeding.
If possible, please obtain the name of the person you spoke with and
the name of the membership director or manager.
Please e-mail the following information to operationy@...:
The state, location name (with address if possible), and phone number
of the YMCA you contacted, the name of the person you spoke with and
the membership director or manager of the facility, the response you
received, the date and approximate time that you called, your name and
email (and phone number, if you feel comfortable. We will never share
or sell your information.)
This is strictly an information-gathering mission. Do not feel you
need to engage the YMCA representative in a debate about breastfeeding
rights we simply want to know how widespread the problem is.
At FirstRight we feel strongly that wherever there is an absence of a
breastfeeding-friendly policy and employee education, there is a
potential for an incident of discrimination. We hope to help the YMCA
achieve their goal of building strong kids, families, and communities
by becoming supporters of breastfeeding children and mothers. Please
call your local Y today!
Also, if you have ever experienced discrimination for breastfeeding at
a YMCA facility, please submit an incident report by filling out
FirstRight's online discrimination form at
www.firstright.org/reportdiscrimination. Even if you do not wish to
take action regarding the incident, we would like to gain an
understanding of how many moms have faced problems at YMCA facilities.