Tess Kinker of Alliance, Ohio, was recently dismissed from her post as committee chair for her son’s Boy Scout pack. Kinker says it's because she was breastfeeding her baby during the meetings. Read on for her story.

Discreet nursing was too much

A devoted mother claims was ousted from her position as committee chair for her local Boy Scout pack. Not because she was bad at her job, but because she nursed her small son while the meetings were going on. We were able to speak with Tess, who shared what went down.

Challenging and rewarding

Tess has been the committee chair of Cub Scout Pack 170 in Alliance, Ohio, for over a year and absolutely loved the position. She was involved with planning events, fundraisers and activities for the year and really enjoyed being involved in the pack, of which her son was a Webelo member. “I loved asking him what go-see-its and activities he thought would be fun for the whole pack,” she shared. “I had a blast being the committee chair. The work was challenging but very rewarding.”

The issue

After a meeting that included their Cub Master as well as Boy Scout Council members and the Boy Scout troop committee, Tess and her husband John were unhappily surprised to discover that they were going to be voted out. Tess says the reason given was the fact that Tess breastfed her little boy during meetings and it was felt to be inappropriate and offensive.

"She was told that breastfeeding is disgusting and that it did not belong in the scouting organization."

Tess alleges she was then subjected to a verbal tirade — she says was told that breastfeeding is disgusting and that it did not belong in the scouting organization. She and her husband were told that they and their children were not welcome on the premises and they were voted out of their positions. Tess further says that when her husband spoke in her defense saying that nursing a baby is a protected right, they were told otherwise. “They argued back that my rights were only in public venues — not at the church where our pack meets,” she told SheKnows. “They compared our rights to that of the most recent case of LGBT vs. BSA, and said that me breastfeeding endangered the boys.”

What lies ahead

Tess is unsurprisingly upset and bewildered at this outcome. “I was angry that they would try to make me feel ashamed to nurse my baby, even though I was very discreet,” she explained.

"If I go to visit my son at the family campout this weekend, I have to walk all the way back to my hot car to nurse my child."

It’s been two weeks and Tess says she has yet to hear personally from Boy Scouts of America, but did hear about their decision through the new Cub Master. “I'm allowed to show [up] at the Cub Scout functions and this weekend's campout, but I'm not allowed to breastfeed according to Buckeye Council and the Chartered Organization Representative,” she shared. “If I go to visit my son at the family campout this weekend, I have to walk all the way back to my hot car to nurse my child.”

Tess is facing the challenge head on and wants mothers to be able to breastfeed their babies at scouting functions in the future. Rachelle, mother of two, feels the same. “I really hope the Boy Scouts of America comes out with a stance that supports breastfeeding,” she told us. “Many mothers are involved with the organization and many of them breastfeed. The Boy Scouts say they are for healthy living, so you would think breastfeeding would be included. It's nature's best food and God made breasts to feed babies.”

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Comments on "Boy Scout committee chair dismissed for breastfeeding"

phil moreno October 23, 2013 | 12:12 PM

"One unit's stupidity"...says it all.

Mailki December 31, 2012 | 5:50 AM

This story is full of holes...I am a Committee Chair, and have been for several years. The only way that a Committee Chair is removed is if the Chartered Org decides to remove him/her. The Committee does not vote on this. The Committee Chair runs Committee meetings, so he/she is in charge of what is on the agenda during those meetings (so how was she blindsided like she says she was?).Additionally, why on earth would ANYTHING having to do with a Troop be involved in Cub Scouts? That might just be the biggest red flag in this story for me - Troops are Boy Scouts, PACKS are Cub Scouts. I'm pretty sure that any Committee Chair with more than 5 minutes on the job would know better than to claim that a Troop Committee told him/her how things were going to be run in the Pack.

Rosemary September 01, 2012 | 2:39 PM

Young boys will soon be teenagers and then young men. Like it or not they will inevitably encounter Playboy magazine and the whole plethora of the lurid images of breasts and uality that saturates our society. It is a healthy and positive step for young children to first be exposed to the positive, nurturing function of mothers as they nurse their own babies the way God and nature intended.

Jennifer September 01, 2012 | 1:51 PM

I hope many of us take the time to write/call/email the Buckeye Council at 2301 13th Street NW, Canton, OH 44708-3157, buckeye@bsamail, 800-589-9812. Pls paste this contact info on other threads about this topic.

Shannon September 01, 2012 | 1:43 PM

I am a proud Scouting mother and our entire troop thinks nursing and babies are normal, thank God. They would never be so stupid as to ask a mother to stop nursing, nor would they even stoop to notice, in fact. THis is what happens WHEN you hide breastfeeding like it's abnormal.

Rebecca August 27, 2012 | 12:42 AM

I agree with the person who said there is more than meets the eye here. We are getting one side of this story and breastfeeding has become such a highly charged issue that it stands to reason that this article should include rebuttal from the Scout Troop that asked her to leave. As a mother I don't think a boy scout meeting is the right place to breastfeed. There is something to be said for more appropriate timing or alternative methods of feeding for these particular instances. If I were one of the other parents I would have felt uncomfortable and this woman should take that into account. Wether you agree with breastfeeding in public or not, in a group setting such as this one must take other's feelings under consideration. There was probably a more diplomatic solution than simply getting rid of her but since this article doesn't site both sides we don't know that they didn't ask her to stop previously.

Mark August 22, 2012 | 9:17 AM

There has to be more to the story. Scout units do not "vote" the way things are described. There are about 2.7 million registered members of the BSA. Does anyone doubt there will be a few idiots in the group? What we don't know is what and where these meetings were and what and how Tess approached her breastfeeding. I have seen this done with class and seen this done in an offensive manner where an attractive woman decides to op out a breast in front of married men for nurse and make no attempt to be discreet about it. As for the camping thing, she would not have to go to her car. She would just go (as I have seen happen many times) to her tent. Remember that the people involved in this story are all VOLUNTEERS. They are Adults and as such are subject to all the petty issues adults have in any volunteer organization. Same story could happen in the PTA, Little League or Swim team. Good for Tess for breastfeeding. Bad for whoever the other idiots were. But this is NOT a BSA problem.

Proud Fox August 22, 2012 | 12:43 AM

Tess can not expect the National office to overturn the chartered organization's decision. What most people don't understand, Scout units are like franchises. The Chartered Organization can choose their leaders at their will. Personally, I am disgusted by the Chartered Organization's decision. I also know if this is the attitude then there are deeper issues and the unit is not delivering the Aims of Scouting to the boys. Tess's son is better off finding another Pack and Troop. Hopefully, she has not been soured by the one unit's stupidity.

Come on now.... August 21, 2012 | 11:17 PM

@Rob..... So, basically what you are saying is if you have a family, a house, a dog, a yard, and a job, that you would not be a good candidate for Committee Chair? Am I also to conclude that you are comparing breastfeeding to "doing your nails, brush your hair or answer emails on your phone." You also stated "This is not a persecution of breast feeding, it is asking someone to take a role and other peoples time seriously." WOW! So, because she's breastfeeding she couldn't POSSIBLY be doing a great job as Committee Chair, and taking the job and other people's time seriously? I have to say I find your "logic" flawed, ist, and a blatant attack on woman and breastfeeding.

Ian Norris August 21, 2012 | 12:17 PM

@ Scout Chaplin: "all the goodness that is scouting"...does that include their anti policies too, is that what is known as good scouting? I have been a part of Boy Scouts for most of my life, I was a Scout in England and we never encountered any of the ridiculous policies and behaviors that I have experienced here in the United States. It seems that every time I read something about the BSA it is always something negative. Join BSA to teach our sons good values? I say teach them yourself, you will achieve much more.

Lia August 21, 2012 | 9:41 AM

They legally CAN NOT tell you you are not allowed to nurse unless it is private property.

smrodocker August 21, 2012 | 9:04 AM

To everyone who is saying pump & put it in a bottle to feed the baby at the meeting. How is that any better? If the baby is with her she would have to get up & warm a bottle, stop & burp her baby, etc. Also, if her baby is exclusively breastfed the baby probably doesn't take a bottle & won't. One of my sons wouldn't take a bottle. So why let the baby go hungry? Most moms who nurse in public are not "whipping" their breast out as I hear people refer to it as. They know how nurse in public & not let it all hang out as many people have said. Breast were made to feed our children. She volunteered her time as well as everyone else there, he time she spends with her children. Why is feeding her child so offensive? Don't we want our boys to respect women? Don't we want them to see their mothers as someone who can do it all? She was doing something for her older son & taking care of another child & we're gonna tell her it's disgusting! Sure let's teach a boy that his mom is disgusting, that makes so much sense..what is wrong with people anymore. We let drug addicts take care of their kids & that's ok, but a mom who is providing the best for her baby is deemed disgusting. I just don't get it. I hope they let her do what she does best again, being a great mom!

Seriously? August 21, 2012 | 8:36 AM

So my question is this......they dismissed her for breastfeeding? Let's say one of the committe chair people is a voluptuous woman who isnt breasfeeding but wore lower cut shirts to show off her breasts.....would they have voted her out? Yeah probably not......

Papa August 21, 2012 | 5:13 AM

Good for you to breastfeed your baby. The day we have to tell others breastfeeding is natural is indeed a sad day. What do they think is natural? Formula !! No wonder we got such a convoluted mentality. Next they want to genetically engineer women to be born with pumps and bottles instead.

Julia August 20, 2012 | 4:02 PM

@Rob - while I agree with you on the pump-and-feed comment, to compare breastfeeding in public as a past time like painting one's nails or brushing one's hair is as ignorant as the members of this organization's view that breastfeeding is "disgusting". But then again, you probably weren't breastfed. So many negative views of breastfeeding in our country comes from DOCTORS, who were supposed to protect the well-being of our community, told mothers in decades past that formula was better for their child than the very sustenance that came from their own body. I don't know how old you are, Rob, but the beliefs you and countless millions hold are a trickle-down effect of that. So sad...

Bobbie August 20, 2012 | 3:59 PM

Shame on them and their dirty minds. You should be supported for making the health of your child important. Bottles of breast milk? Sorry, the connection to mother is so necessary in the mental health of a child...if one doubts that, just look around any public classroom...

Rob August 19, 2012 | 5:39 PM

As the Committee Chair you are the top adult volunteer. Only the Church can remove you from leadership, the local council has no control of this process and furthermore a vote does not take place to remove you. All these volunteer leaders in the room only sit there because you have approved them. If you were taking this role seriously and attended training these are all things she would know. Finally, I am glad you are breast feeding. This is a situation when a pump and bottles are used. It is rude to other volunteers who are giving up time for the leader of this group to try and multi-task during a meeting, please add to the list do not do your nails, brush your hair or answer emails on your phone. This is not a persecution of breast feeding, it is asking someone to take a role and other peoples time seriously.

Foolkiller August 19, 2012 | 4:35 PM

How is this any more bizarre than all the other superstitions the Boy Scouts are based on? It's an organization proud of its ignorance.

Miku August 19, 2012 | 1:51 PM

I agree with Tara. No one is telling her she can't feed her baby, however, whipping out your breast in the middle of a cub scout meetings seems a little weird. You don't want to walk back to your hot car? Too bad, bring some breast milk in a bottle. I hate how this is becoming a political issue. It's not about people finding it 'disgusting'. It's about a time and place and breast feeding in a room with 9 year old boys during a cub scout meeting is not a good time or place. Just think of all the calories you'll burn walking to the car :D

Kaz August 19, 2012 | 9:19 AM

Maybe if people see breasts in their childhood they won't be so infantile about them as adults. We are mammals and the female of the species has breasts in order to nurture children.

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