By Monica Beyer
Photo credit: Missy Smith
A mom says she was threatened with eviction after her neighbors complained that she breastfed her child on the porch of her own apartment.
In Oklahoma, mothers can nurse their babies wherever they have a legal right to be, but apparently the property manager at a particular apartment building didn’t get the memo, because he initially told Missy Smith that if he got another complaint about her breastfeeding her child, he’d have to give her an eviction notice. Fortunately he has since realized the error of his ways, but how could this even happen?
Smith has lived in this apartment building for around a year, but she tells me that she has rented from this property manager before. She also shares that she was extremely upset when she went to him about her tomato plants being cut down. Why? Because she was told that the plants were the “least of her worries” and that she and her family could be evicted for feeding her kid without a cover, because her neighbors were complaining about it.
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Knowing that breastfeeding is legal in Oklahoma, she phoned her local police station, and what she says she was told will make your head spin. According to Smith, the woman told her that if her daughter refused to nurse with a cover over her, then she’d have to nurse her inside.
“It makes me angry,” she says. “I am angry with the woman I spoke to at the police station who told me I would have to cover or stay inside, and I am angry at the neighbors who think it’s OK to stare — and then constantly complain.”
Smith showed her landlord the Oklahoma law that guarantees her the right to nurse her daughter (covers not required!), and a friend has organized a nurse-in to take place this upcoming weekend. While this incident ended on a positive note, you have to wonder that if she hadn’t resisted, would this have resulted in the family losing their home?
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I asked Smith what she would say to someone who has an issue with a mom nursing her baby, and she nailed it. “I would like to tell them to do their research. The law protects me,” she explains. “Also, just because you are not comfortable doesn’t make breastfeeding wrong.”
I hope this story serves as a heads-up to other property managers around the U.S., because if this has happened to Smith, then it has likely happened to others who weren’t aware of their rights and were bullied out of their homes. We need to provide a strong front for moms and their babies by knowing that feeding a baby is legal. While that may sound crazy, when you read stories like this, it’s not so far-fetched.