An Oklahoma City YMCA has said it is going to work to better train its staff members after an employee asked the mother of an 8-week-old baby to leave a women’s locker room because she was breastfeeding her child.
KFOR News reports Tiffany Hoag was feeding her baby in the locker room of the Earlywine YMCA on the city’s south side Wednesday when, Hoag says, a YMCA employee asked her to leave and go to a family locker room.
“I went to the women’s locker room and changed him, then he started to get a little bit fussy, so I started to nurse him,” Hoag told KFOR.
She said she sat down near another mom who was also breastfeeding a child. The gym employee then reportedly came in and told them they couldn’t be in there.
“The next thing you know, she’s escorting this lady out of the locker room, and then she comes back for me and says ‘you can’t be in here, I’m going to have to ask you to leave,’” Hoag said.
She said she was shown across the gym to a family locker room where she had to nurse her son while sitting next to a shower and a toilet.
“I really am humiliated and just embarrassed. I was escorted out of the locker room and through the gym,” Hoag told KOCO News.
Oklahoma state law says that "mothers have the right to breastfeed anywhere they have a right to be."
The YMCA issued a statement saying the situation likely stemmed from the employee’s misinterpretation of a policy that says children aren’t allowed in adult locker rooms.
“We are looking into this particular incident further with the staff members involved in an effort to ensure that no other moms have this happen in the future,” the statement read. “We are very sorry that this new mom had a negative experience and will continue to train our staff to understand that moms can breastfeed anywhere they would like to do so in our facilities.”
According to a separate statement, quoted by KFOR, the YMCA operates 12 facilities in Oklahoma City.
While Hoag said she has reservations about returning to that particular YMCA, she said she is glad to hear the family facility is taking steps to make sure the same thing doesn’t happen to another mother.
“But if it had to happen to me to make it not happen to 10 other mothers, then it’s worth it,” she told KOCO. “And if it ends with me, then I’m happy and I’m good with that.”