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Growing Up Texas: AISD’s breastfeeding policy takes spotlight
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To a passerby at the park, Krisdee Donmoyer may look like she's holding a sleeping baby. You'd have to look close--or perhaps a little longer than normal--to realize she's actually feeding her child.
Donmoyer was breastfeeding her son while waiting for her older son at an Austin Independent School District elementary school when she was approached by a faculty member who told her she needed to move to a private room.
"I found out it was district practice to do what she had done and direct me to a private room," she said.
Texas Health and Safety Code states, “a mother is entitled to breast-feed her baby in any location in which the mother is authorized to be.” According to AISD officials, the law is open to interpretation.
"I don't think this is an issue about the value of breastfeeding, the district supports all the healthy reasons why breastfeeding is a terrific idea. I think the question for us is the ‘where’ part," AISD Chief of Staff Mel Waxler said.
This isn't the first time this question has come up with the district, but the issue is more at the forefront than ever before. Donmoyer created a Facebook page and an online petition to encourage the district to change its policy.
"I think that there are some moms who never worried about it before, but now they are,” Donmoyer said. “I think there are moms who know their legal rights and they're going to feed their babies whenever and wherever their babies need to be fed."
Donmoyer said it's not an act of defiance, but a way to spread a message of support for nursing mothers.
"The more people who see nursing in public, the less nervous mothers will be because it will become more normal,” she said.
Still, it's not considered "normal" to everyone just yet—which is why district officials say they hope to find a happy medium.
"Of course we're trying to balance, as we typically do, the interest of all of our constituents,” Waxler said.
AISD's School Health Advisory Council, and other district officials, are meeting with Krisdee and other parents to discuss the district's breastfeeding policy.