Kicked off a plane for breastfeeding

In 2006, Emily Gillette made national headlines when she was kicked off an airplane for refusing to cover up while breastfeeding her 1-year-old daughter.

She recently settled with Delta Airlines (plus two other companies) after she sued them for discrimination. Was she in the right, or was she an exhibitionist? Read on!

Emily Gillette was nursing her baby on a Delta Connections flight in 2006 when she was ordered to cover up by airline staff. Upon her refusal, she was booted from the flight, a move that sparked widespread nurse-ins and subsequently, a lawsuit was filed by Gillette against Delta, Freedom Airlines Inc. and Mesa Air Group Inc. The lawsuit was settled for an undisclosed amount of money but it sparks the question: Shouldn’t breastfeeding harassment be a thing of the past by now?

Be discreet

Many people say breastfeeding in public is fine as long as the mother is covered or is taking pains to be discreet. “I don’t think a cover is necessary if you know the meaning of discreet,” said Ula from Michigan. “I am not for showing your whole breast when nursing. I know it’s natural, but it’s also personal.”

The problem is even this isn’t good enough for some misguided employees of business, which Maggie Bowen discovered when she was asked to stop nursing her son at a water park recently — even though they were covered by a towel.

An anonymous mother put a unique spin on the topic. “Some women (not all, just a very few) do flaunt their breasts,” she reported. “Some women LOVE attention, and want attention in any way they can. So really, boob flaunting is the least of everyone’s problems when it comes to these women.”

Eating with a blanket over your head?

Many babies, particularly older babies and toddlers, particularly dislike nursing under a cover. “I usually just drape a burp cloth across my chest,” shared Yvonne, mother of two, “but I don’t cover my baby’s face. My two have never liked having covers or blankets over their heads!”

Samantha, mother of five, agreed. “Personally, I didn’t cover up in public,” she explained. “I’ve seen more boobies popping out of low-cut shirts than you could ever see of mine while I was nursing.”

Legal rights

In most areas of the U.S., breastfeeding mothers are protected by laws that generally state that they have a right to nurse their babies anywhere they are legally allowed to be. There is no clause that states these mothers must be covered or discreet. Many businesses also have policies about breastfeeding, and most issues arise when employees are not properly educated to store policy or their state’s law. Target, for example, recently found itself the subject of a nationwide nurse-in when employees allegedly bullied a customer who was trying to nurse her hungry baby in the store.

While public figures such as Beyonce can help breastfeeding in public become more prevalent and accepted, it’s still up to individuals to accept nursing in public as a natural part of our society, as it was decades ago. Many feel breastfeeding in public is not only a civil rights issue but a public health issue, and the more moms who choose to nurse their children while they are out and about may help another mother make the same choice.

Tell Us

Should nursing in public be accepted as a natural thing to do? Or should nursing moms cover up?

More on breastfeeding in public

Do breasts belong on Facebook?
Michigan breastfeeding flash mob quickly dispersed
Is breastfeeding in public still unacceptable?


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