On Nov. 7, Aisha Marshall, a stay-at-home mother of four, was registering her second-grader at Port Allen Elementary School in Louisiana, when her 13-month-old son needed to nurse. Marshall took a break from the paperwork and began breastfeeding. But the school secretary took note and said, “Um, you can’t do that in here.”
However, Marshall understood her rights under Louisiana law, which states that women can breastfeed anywhere they’re legally allowed to be, and that they are not required to wear a cover. “You can’t be serious right now,” Marshall recounted on Facebook. “No, ma’am, I will not.”
After the secretary called a man, identified by local news station WBTV as the school principal, Marshall pressed record on Facebook Live. The video, which received more than 106,000 views, more than 600 shares, and 1,600 reactions, depicts Marshall calmly refusing to stop breastfeeding.
“Well, these are young kids,” argues the principal. Marshall replies of her son, “OK, he’s a young kid.”
When the principal offers his office as an alternative to the waiting room, Marshall says, “No. Um, what’s the problem? Tell me the problem. That’s what I’m wondering. Legally, I can breastfeed my child anywhere I want, and it does not say that I have to cover him up. So tell me what’s the problem.”
Marshall then asks the man if he would eat a meal under a cover, and he says, “No, ma’am. I think that’s different.”
She replies, “What’s different? He’s got to eat. Everybody has to eat. What’s the difference?”
The conversation ended there, and the secretary appeared to change the subject. But it was just beginning on Facebook, where Marshall was saluted for defending her right to nurse in public.
“If you feel you need to approach a momma feeding her baby the ONLY thing you should be asking her… is if you can get her anything!!!” one commentator wrote on Facebook. “Way to go momma! Way to stand your ground! You should have NEVER been asked to move or cover your child!”
Another supporter wrote, “Good for you mama. I’m gonna be a new momma soon, and I won’t tolerate any harassment from anyone. Good for you sticking up for you and your baby.” And one wrote, “Well done for sticking up for your child’s rights.”
Marshall did not respond to Yahoo Lifestyle’s request for comment, and no one from Port Allen Elementary or the West Baton Rouge Parish School Board was available for comment. However, Superintendent Wes Watts told local news station WAFB, “Our job is to protect the educational environment of our students. She was offered a place to go in private, and she refused. I am comfortable with how my school handled that in trying to accommodate her and protect our students.”
According to the news outlet, the mom has filed a complaint with the Louisiana Commission on Human Rights.
“If adults stopped sexualizing women period…there would be no guys afraid of making eye contact like this one,” Marshall wrote on Facebook. “My child will not hide and eat.”
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