A mother says she was told to breast-feed her child in a bathroom at a New York Library after another patron allegedly complained.
Sherry Singh said she had just finished breast-feeding her 4 and 1/2-month-old daughter on Sept. 19, when an employee at the Forest Hills Library told her to go to the bathroom to nurse her child.
"I got very angry because I've never heard of this," Singh told the NY Daily News on Sept. 21. Her baby was being fed under a nursing cover.
Singh, who goes to the Forest Hills Library in Queens, New York, weekly, said that she was especially puzzled by the request because she had breast-fed her other daughter there when she was an infant without any problems. Ironically, Singh also noted that she even attended meetings of La Leche League at the Forest Hills Library. La Leche League is a nonprofit that promotes breast-feeding.
“I told her I was completely covered,” Singh said. “She told me it didn’t matter. I still had to go to the bathroom.”
After further protesting, the employee told her another patron complained.
Singh called her husband, who researched the issue and reassured his wife of her rights. In New York state, law allows women to breast-feed their child covered or uncovered, in any public or private place where they have a right to be, such as libraries, restaurants, stores or movie theaters.
According to the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU), the law further states a woman cannot be told to leave or move to a private room or bathroom to nurse.
“This incident shows there is a greater need for public education on women's right to breast-feed in public,” NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman said.
Forest Hills Library officials personally apologized to Singh following the incident, saying their facilities are designed to be family-friendly.
“We encourage families to come to the library," a representative said. "We make a special effort to support early learning and to attract the very youngest library users."
Singh wants women to be aware of their right to breast-feed in public and hopes that her ordeal will spread awareness.
"We really do need to normalize breast-feeding,” she said.
"We will be giving our staff additional training to remind them about the proper practice for maintaining a welcoming environment for all library customers," the library representative added.