Saturday, September 1, 2007

Applebees Nurse-In Request

I received this from another loop:

I am flooded with replys to my earlier email. I regret that I can not speak with each of you one on one but with 8 children I am streched for time so I will send you all this email.Thank you for your concern.On June 14th (my anniversary) a few of my children (I have 8) took me to Applebee's for lunch. For my own privacy I asked for the corner booth. I sat facing into the corner not facing the room. My then 7 month old baby boy needed to nurse so we did. A server (Jessica Balswick) came to me and stated that the manager asked her to come speak to me because she was a female. She said the manager said if we wanted to breastfeed we had to cover the baby's head with a blanket. I told her since it was hot out that I didn't have a blanket. She reiterated so I stopped nursing and asked to speak with the manager.

As we waited the baby cried so I passed him across the table to my oldest son (almost 18 yrs old) so he could help comfort his as I was a bit shook up. The baby was inconsolable so I told my son to take him to the van and I would come to nurse him as soon as I spoke with the manager.

When the manager (Justin Arnolds) came I handed him a copy of the KRS 211.755 law that I keep in my diaper bag. I said "I would like you to educate yourself and your employees of this law that protects breastfeeding mothers." He handed it back to me after glancing over it and said "I know but somebody complained it was indecent exposure so you have to cover the baby with a blanket if you want to breastfeed here". I again held out the paper saying "look at part 3 of the law, it says no person shall interfere with a woman breastfeeding her child". He said the same exact thing as before "I know but somebody complained it was indecent exposure so you have to cover the baby with a blanket if you need to breastfeed here." At that exact moment our server came back with our meal and I said "We can not eat this because I have to go breastfeed my baby." As I exited the hostess asked what was wrong and I told her very briefly and said "I don't see anyone else eating under a blanket in here."

I went to the van, nursed my baby, cried, and called my local LLL leader Karen. She told me to get the manager and servers name. She gave me names and addresses of people I needed to let know about this incident.

Our lawyer wrote a letter on June 27, 2007 to Applebee's restaurant (4009 Nicholasville Rd., Applebee's Corporate Headquarters 249 E Main St. (Mike Scanlon) The Lexington-Fayette County Health Dept. (Doraine Bailey), The KY Breastfeeding Promotion Coordinator (Becky Derifield) and the LLL Karen Brown.

The letter was ignored.

Our lawyer wrote another letter on July 25, 2007.

On August 3, 2007 Thomas & King, Inc. Legal Department finally responded. Mr Jonathan R. Weatherby, Jr. Associate General Counsel wrote "we regret that Ms. Ryan left without being served and would like the opportunity to personally invite her to return" .... "we are also considering keeping blankets in the restaurants for use by breast-feeding mothers that may not have them readily available as a result of this incident."

My husband gasped when he read this response. They just don't get it. It is like saying "Rosa Parks still has to sit at the back of the bus but we will give her a pillow so she is comfortable back there."

My midwife suggested I speak with the Senator that spearheaded getting the KRS211.755 law. I left a message for Senator Tom Buford and the next day he called me back. I asked him what recourse I had. He said "If you take them to small claims court you could get up to $1,500.00" .... "if you take them to a higher court you may not even get enough to cover your legal fees." I told the Senator I was not interested in money. I want things to change. I want public attention on this cause. I have daughters that will someday breastfeed. I want action not money. I told Senator Buford about my nurse in/out idea and he thought it sounded great. In fact he said "let me know the date and I will come by and support you" .... he also said "hold a sign up saying -small children are not allowed to eat in this restaurant." I said "can I quote you on that" and he said "yes!" Senator Buford said "next time any one does this tell them to call the police and get a police report written up on it."

Since August is "World Breastfeeding Awareness Month" I am having one nurse-out at the Fayette Mall just to raise awareness. This is not in any way to attack the mall .... it is just a place to hang out at. I am late arranging this so it will not actually be in August but then again what is one day. It will be September 1st.

The second event is actually to draw attention to Applebee's restaurant. Friends and supporters will decorate posters and display them for all to see.

I will paste a copy of the flyer for each of the two events here for all to copy and share.

NURSE-OUT
SPEAK-OUT
Applebee's violated KRS 211.755

Educate Lexington that KY law protects public breastfeeding and mothers should never be asked to move, hide, cover up, or leave.

Decorate posters and display them at a peaceful Nurse-Out.

THEME: Breastfeeding in public is Legal
DATE: Saturday, September 8, 2007(in case of rain date 9/22/07)
LOCATION: 4009 Nicholasville RoadLexington KY
On the public sidewalk in front of Applebee's
Exercise caution and do not block the right of way.
News crews will be reporting.
Do not park in Applebee's parking lot!

I hope everyone can pass this on to as many as possible. Every "quotation" is in the exact wording. I am also willing to share copies of the actual correspondence between our lawyer and Applebee's.

Thank you for your support,
Brooke Ryan

8 comments:

Michael Faris said...

I am very sympathetic to your point, and agree with you entirely that breastfeeding should be legal and allowed in public. I came across your blog from this article on Facebook.

However, I'd caution against comparing this situation to Rosa Parks and racial segregation. As someone who actively works for queer rights, I try to be cognizant of appropriating the civil rights movements of others and making comparisons that do not do justice to the maiming of dignity that occurs in racial segregation. Just something to consider.

moosh in indy. said...

I have to say that even though I was never able to breastfeed for medical reasons I greatly admire those who do and those who know their rights and stand up for them.
Good luck in all your endeavors.

Mark said...

On August 3, 2007 Thomas & King, Inc. Legal Department finally responded. Mr Jonathan R. Weatherby, Jr. Associate General Counsel wrote "we regret that Ms. Ryan left without being served and would like the opportunity to personally invite her to return" .... "we are also considering keeping blankets in the restaurants for use by breast-feeding mothers that may not have them readily available as a result of this incident."

My husband gasped when he read this response. They just don't get it. It is like saying "Rosa Parks still has to sit at the back of the bus but we will give her a pillow so she is comfortable back there."


Are you seriously comparing this silly little drama of yours with the inception of the Civil Rights Movement?

You really have no clue do you? Go and talk to some people with REAL oppression in their lives and STOP ACTING LIKE SUCH VICTIMS.

Becky said...

This is no silly little drama.
Notice, a man would post something like that, not understanding what breastfeeding mothers endure while trying to simply feed our children, as we are completely entitled.
It is embarrassing, shaming, and demeaning, to be accosted while nursing as privately as we possibly can. Then, the fact that the law protecting breastfeeding rights is blatantly ignored by people who should know better is ridiculous. This may not be as widespread, as long-standing, or as emotionally devastating as racial discrimination, but it is DISCRIMINATION none-the-less and is a problem that needs to be dealt with for sure.

Mark said...

Ahhh Becky, it's so easy to fall back onto the 'Only a man would say that' argument, isn't it?

After all, it saves you from having to actually make a constructive point.

Nevermind the fact that such a statement is just as sexist and discriminatory as the anti-breastfeeding sentiment you so enthusiastically condemn here on these pages.

FYI I'm well aware of the challenges mothers face in in terms of breastfeeding. My wife breastfed our 2 children in public, but managed to do so with enough discretion that no-one ever complained. We come from a fairly conservative country too. This leads me to wonder what it is that you and others here are doing so wrong to get picked on like you claim?

The whole reason I posted here was that I genuinely failed to see any trace of this perceived oppression and discrimination in my experience as a father of two kids who were publically breastfed. I was hoping for some concrete examples that breastfeeding mothers were being persecutred and hounded.

I was prepared to see what the so-called lactivists had to say, but to see them liken the discrimination against breastfeeding mothers to that of African-Americans historically is outright arrogant and offensive. No one ever lynched a mother for breastfeeding.

While you're at it, go complain to the Jewish people of Eastern Europe about discrimination, I'm sure they'll empathise with you about how horrible your experiences have been.

I could sit around and debate this topic but so far all I've seen is a bunch of people looking for a fight that barely exists. You people don't know you're alive compared to others in this world who genuinely DO have problems.

I'm off to play with my kids, my advice to you would be to do the same. It'd be sad if you turned around one day and realised you'd spent so much time online debating this rubbish that you'd missed out on the TRUE joy of parenting.

Susan said...

Wow, I notice he spent a lot of time NOT playing with his kids in order to write a rebuttal and issue more insults. Hmm... wonder if he missed out on any of the TRUE joy of parenting during that time?

I cannot see for a moment how leaving flippant, demeaning comments like "this silly little drama of yours" and "stop acting like such victims" can be taken as the starter for a serious, mature discussion.

What did he say he posted for? Oh, yeah: "I was hoping for some concrete examples that breastfeeding mothers were being persecutred and hounded."

I'm sure.

And did it not occur to him that his mean-spirited and belittling comments were evidence of this very thing?

Deborah Hoffman said...

Wow what a lot of mean-spirited comments here. YOU GO GIRL.

P.S. How did it turn out?

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