A mother from Cambridge, Ont., says her human rights were violated after she was stopped from breastfeeding her daughter at a gymnastics club. In a Facebook post, Monica Makey said she took her daughter Vayda to Dynamo Gymnastics for a “parent and tot” gymnastics program on Sunday. When Vayda, who is nearly two, wanted to nurse during class, Makey sat down by the gym mats and began breastfeeding her.
Makey says that was when a supervisor came over and asked her to “leave the gym.”
“She said they have a ‘no food or drink policy’ and that my breast milk could stain the mats,” Makey wrote in her Facebook post. “When I asked if I could sit where the gymnasts leave their water bottles, again I was asked to move. What this gym did was illegal, they were in the wrong. Yet, I was made to feel embarrassed and ashamed for breastfeeding my toddler ‘in the middle of the gym.'”
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According to the Ontario Human Rights Commission, breastfeeding mothers have the right to breastfeed a child in a public area: “No one should prevent you from breastfeeding your child simply because you are in a public area. They should not ask you to ‘cover up,’ disturb you, or ask you to move to another area that is more ‘discreet.'”
But after speaking to the owner of the gym, Mackey claims that not only was the employee ignorant of the law, but so was the owner.
“She was defensive and made excuses. A simple: ‘I’m sorry that happened, she was wrong. You have the right to breastfeed anywhere in our facility,’ would have been the only acceptable response,” the mom wrote in her post. “Many people believe they are supportive of breastfeeding but most do not understand that it is our legal human right to breastfeed WHEREVER and WHENEVER – no exceptions. Especially not because of a ridiculous ‘food and drink policy.'”
In an interview with CTV Kitchener, Lisa Rutledge, co-owner of Dynamo Gymnastics agreed that it is “a mother’s complete right under the Human Rights Code to breastfeed wherever and whenever she likes.” She said it was an unfortunate incident due to one of the coaches being misinformed about the policy.
On Monday, the team at Dynamo Gymnastics apologized in a Facebook post.
“We want to again sincerely apologize for the experience had by a first-time member at our gym regarding our support for breastfeeding. We want to ensure our members and community understand the steps we, as an organization, are taking so that no other member of the Dynamo community be faced with a similar situation,” they said.
“We have brought in breastfeeding specialist Tania Heinemann (RNCP IBCLC) to participate in a mandatory all-staff educational meeting to ensure all members of the Dynamo team are aware of policies and procedures around the subject. We are taking this a step further and revisiting all of our company policies and procedures and will be retraining all our staff on these updates.
We value your child’s well-being and development as much as you do and are committed to fostering an environment where our athletes, parents and coaches are supported and respected.”