(HOUSTON) — A Texas mother says she was forced to leave a public pool for breastfeeding her baby.
Misty Daugereaux went to the Nessler Park Family Aquatic Center in Texas City, about 40 miles southeast of Houston, with her two young sons and her nephew on Sunday. Her 10-month-old got hungry and became fussy, so she attempted to discreetly breastfeed him, she said.
But a lifeguard approached her and said she couldn’t breastfeed at the public pool. Then the pool manager told her it was against their policy and she needed to “cover up or leave.”
“She gave me the ultimatum,” Daugereaux told Houston ABC station KTRK-TV in an interview Monday. “And I said, ‘Well, you show me in your policy where I need to cover up and I’ll leave.’ And she, you know, was telling me that it was, you know, not right, that I needed to cover up, it’s their policy.”
“And I said, ‘Well, you can go call whoever you need to call, but I’m not leaving for breastfeeding my son,'” she said.
The pool manager called police, Daugereaux said, and an officer responded to the scene and made her leave.
“I walked out feeling defeated, you know, because I couldn’t stand my ground,” she told KTRK.
The Texas City Police Department on Monday released footage from that officer’s body camera, showing the events that unfolded after he arrived.
In the five-minute video, the pool manager greets the officer and tells him that Daugereaux “was getting outraged” and “cussing” at the lifeguard who told her to cover up.
The officer then walks over to Daugereaux, who is sitting by the pool with her children, and asks her, “What happened?”
“I was feeding my baby,” Daugereaux responds.
“Did you cuss that lifeguard?” the officer asks.
“Absolutely not,” Daugereaux says.
“I have a right to feed my baby,” she adds. “I don’t stand for a lot, but I will stand for that.”
She continues, “I’m conscious enough to know I don’t want every man in the pool looking at my boobs. But when you have a 10-month-old who doesn’t take a bottle, I’m going to feed him.”
In the bodycam footage, the officer then walks back over to the pool manager, who is standing with the lifeguard, to discuss the situation further.
“No, she don’t got to leave,” the manager says. “But the baby was latching on one breast but she had both of them out.”
“She was cussing me out,” the lifeguard adds.
“You want her to leave?” the manager asks.
“I’d like her to leave,” the lifeguard responds. “We also had more than one complaint.”
“You want them to leave or what?” the officer asks.
“Yeah, she can leave,” the manager says.
The officer then walks over to Daugereaux and tells her she needs to pack up her things and leave.
“I don’t understand how it’s right,” Daugereaux says. “It isn’t fair that I can’t feed my baby.”
“That wasn’t the issue,” the officer says. “The issue was that you were cussing out a lifeguard.”
“So it’s her word against mine that I’m cussing out a lifeguard?” Daugereaux responds.
“I wasn’t here so I don’t know,” the officer says. “I’m just telling you that they’re asking that you leave, OK?”
“Yes, sir,” Daugereaux says, before gathering her things.
The officer then speaks with the pool manager once more before leaving.
“I appreciate you coming out here,” the manager says. “You know, we deal with a lot here.”
“I know you got to feed your kids but go sit under a blanket or something,” the officer says.
“I thought you’re supposed to cover up,” the manager says. “I know people breastfeed and stuff but–”
“That’s all fine and dandy, but just sit in a chair and cover up,” the officer says. “Don’t sit there with both your tits out.”
“Yeah, she did,” the manager says.
“OK, well have a good one,” the officer says.
That evening, Daugereaux posted about the incident on Facebook, saying she felt “hurt” and “embarrassed.” Her post, which has been shared more than 1,800 times, prompted a group of breastfeeding moms to gather outside the Nessler Park Family Aquatic Center on Monday and hold a “nurse-in” as a show of support.
“I feel powerful, loved and supported,” Daugereaux told KTRK. “More than I ever could have imagined.”
Texas City officials released a statement Monday saying they are “reviewing the nursing concerns raised at the Nessler Pool and how it was addressed by our staff.”
“We apologize to Misty Daugereaux as it is clear she was offended by how she was treated at out City Facility,” city officials said. “City policies and procedures will be reviewed and revised as deemed necessary. Any deficiencies regarding our employee’s actions will be addressed with further training.”
Mothers can legally breastfeed in any public or private location in every U.S. state, federal district and territory. Thirty states — not including Texas — as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands exempt breastfeeding from public indecency laws, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
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