JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A First Coast mother is outraged after she said her right to breast feed her child was violated while at a government building.
Page Steffens said an employee at the Department of Revenue in Daytona tried to stop her from breastfeeding her nine-month-old son Finn. Steffens has filed a complaint with the American Civil Liberties Union, and hopes that doesn't happen to anyone else.
Steffens calls Finn a blessing. Her first child was born 11 years ago, pre-mature. She said she was unable to breastfeed. But this time around, she's made it her priority to put the formula aside and nurture Finn.
"I don't feel any woman should be made to feel bad about that decision," said Steffens.
On January 27, during a visit to the Department of Revenue in Daytona, Steffens said she was shocked when scolded by an employee there.
"He was hungry so I had a breast feeding top on so you just remove the little strap and you cannot see anything at all," said Steffens. "I went to feed him and she shamed me."
Inside of an office room with Finn in hand, the mother of two said a female employee shot her an awful look along with some disturbing words.
"She said 'well you don't feed your baby like that in here. I have male coworkers and I don't need a phone call because this is inappropriate,'" said Steffens. "I almost stopped but then I thought why?"
According to Florida law, Section 1, "The breastfeeding of a baby is an important and basic act of nurture which must be encouraged in the interests of maternal and child health and family values. A mother may breastfeed her baby in any location, public or private, where the mother is otherwise authorized to be, irrespective of whether or not the nipple of the mother's breast is covered during or incidental to the breastfeeding."
--House bill no. HB 231 Fl. ALS 4; 1993 Fla. Laws ch. 4; 1993 Fla. HB 231
--Fla. Stat. § 383.015, § 800.02 - 800.04, § 847.001 (later: § 827.071)
"I was literally depressed the whole night I felt so bad," said Steffens. "I felt shamed like I had done something wrong and I knew in my heart that I hadn't."
The Department of Revenue sent First Coast News this statement regarding the incident..
"The Department continues to remind our employees that the right to breastfeed in public is protected by Florida law. We will continue to ensure our employees know this through training and communications to supervisors and employees." - Renee Watters
First For You, visit the website http://www.flbreastfeeding.org/legislation.htm , where you can download and print a card to carry around, with the License to Breastfeed in Public law written on it.