The Church in Nazarene in Brighton was recently hit with a lawsuit over alleged breastfeeding discrimination.
For many new mothers, learning to breastfeed their infant is no easy feat. It takes dedication and patience and a willingness to stand up for yourself in the face of anyone who views breastfeeding as unacceptable in the public arena. That said, it’s not uncommon for breastfeeding mothers to face discrimination at some point. For example, a mother in Brighton recently spoke out about her experience of breastfeeding discrimination at her church. According to Amy Marchant, she was approached by staff members at the Church of Nazarene in Brighton and “called out on social media” for the natural and total legal act of breastfeeding her child.
When describing what happened, Marchant said she was feeding her baby in the children’s area in her church. At the time she wasn’t approached by anyone, but when she got home, she had a private Facebook message from one of the staff members at the church that asked her to “cover up next time or go to a different room.” Marchant said that upon reading the message she felt shocked and added, “I honestly thought that we were kind of over that as a society, but I quickly learned we’re not.”
About a month later, the church sent her a letter to apologize, but Marchant said it was full of defamatory statements and claims. For example, “they said that I was nursing with both breasts fully exposed and the rumor turned into I was nursing topless,” Marchant said.
As a result of her treatment, Marchant hired a lawyer and is in the process of filing a lawsuit against the Church of Nazarene over allegations that it invading her privacy and violated the Anti-discrimination Breastfeeding Act. Her attorney, David Helm, chimed in and said, “there were later approaches from other individuals that said what she was doing was immodest and causing men to lust after her and it was inappropriate.” He added, “there was a law that was passed in 2014. Gov. Snyder signed it into law then and it says equal access to breastfeeding mothers in public.”
Since the incident, Marchant has left the church and is hoping her lawsuit will serve as a wake-up call for churches and others that breastfeed in public is OK. However, she said the larger problem rests with the way society views women and breasts. She said, “I think it goes way beyond breastfeeding at this point and I felt like my whole body was being sexualized. This isn’t a sexual thing at all and this happens to women all the time, and we’re also still treated a lot like we’re second-class citizens and that needs to stop.”