Karen Belz
May 26, 2016 12:23 pm
Facebook/Kate Haslam

Breastfeeding in public has always been a controversial topic — even though it’s known that it’s a natural and safe way to feed babies. In fact, they’re the main purpose of breasts in the first place. And sure, while some might feel uncomfortable when they’re around a breastfeeding mom, there’s a simple solution — avert your eyes. Most mothers don’t try to make a show of the act, and just want to do what’s right, which is feeding their baby when they’re hungry.

A YMCA in Limerick, PA, however, wasn’t accepting of Mom Kate Haslam, who tried to breastfeed her 19-month-old son, West. Haslam was sitting on a balance beam that was somewhat obscured by storage shelves while feeding her son during a toddler gym class. Both Haslam and her son, who have been members of the YMCA since January, were enrolled in the class, but were asked to move out of the room after hearing that there “were men in this class that were uncomfortable.”

On Monday, May 23rd, Haslam took to Facebook to express her frustrations with how this YMCA location handled the situation.

The YMCA didn’t have a dedicated nursing area, and YMCA staff members were pushing for her to nurse in the locker room, which was not only populated by men and women of all ages, but likely wasn’t a safer space. “I explained that as a nursing mother being told to cover up and be hidden away isn’t making me comfortable and was against the law,” Haslam said in her in Facebook post. “I honestly can’t believe in 2016 at a family friendly facility of all places we are discriminating against women on how they choose to feed their child.”

Haslam’s story soon went viral. Both FOX and NBC took interest in the post, which at the time of publication, has over 1,335 Facebook shares.

The segment that aired on FOX29 news interviewed  the CEO and President of the Philadelphia and Freedom Valley YMCA, Shaun Elliott. He claims that the entire ordeal was a miscommunication, and that other children wanted to use the beam that Haslam was sitting on while she was breastfeeding. Haslam didn’t seem super impressed by his apology, along with the other apologies that she had gotten from the staff, and noted that she’d like to sit down with Elliott at some point to talk it out a bit more. She noted that the act of breastfeeding in public is brave, based on the amount of stares and attention it typically brings. All in all, she couldn’t believe that all of this happened at the YMCA, which is known for being family friendly.

But the good news is that Haslam isn’t ready to hand over her YMCA membership. Despite this incident, she said that both her and her son like the classes they offer, and is looking to move past what happened. She does, however, want to help educate the staff on how to handle situations like this in the future.