Oklahoma mother, Missy Smith, breastfed her daughter on her porch like normal everyday, especially when the weather was nice. It was when her landlord told her that her neighbors had been complaining and threatening to contact authorities due to child endangerment that she spoke out about the discrimination and educated her landlord of the state breastfeeding laws.
Missy wrote to NormalizeBreastfeeding.org:
“My family and I are facing the threat of eviction because I breastfeed my daughter. (Some of this may seem irrelevant but its not.) We rent a duplex, and when we came home from the grocery store to find that all of my plants in my garden, including my tomatoes that were in tomato cages that had just started to get flowers on them, were cut down by a weed eater. I went into the property managers office to file a complaint. The manager said he wasn’t sure who had done our yard today. I told him he needed to find out so that I could file a complaint. His response was, “your tomato plants are the least of your worries, all of the neighbors have been complaining about you breastfeeding on your porch without a cover, and one of them has informed me that the next time they see you nursing outside that they will call the cops, and that he would have to file an eviction. I told the property manager to tell them to go ahead and call the cops I know the laws that protect my right to breastfeed where ever I am legally allowed to be, and since we pay rent to live here I am legally allowed to be on my front porch and in my yard. His response was that I can’t legally nurse without a cover, which the law does not state that a mother must use a cover. I came home and told my husband what happened and then I called the non emergency number for the police. The woman I spoke to said that there was nothing I could do, that if my daughter refuses to nurse with a cover, that I should either stop breastfeeding or only do it in my home. My husband called the manager and the story keeps on changing as to why we are being threatened of eviction. First it was that I breastfeed outside and its offending the neighbors. Then it was that if the cops are called it is breaking the lease by causing unnecessary drama (nowhere in the lease does it state anything about breastfeeding, nor does it state we can be evicted because someone calls the cops about something that isn’t illegal, It only states that we have to have noise levels down after 10pm.) Then they said the problem has nothing to do with me breastfeeding, that it is about the complaints. I had my husband reiterate that the complaints are about me breastfeeding so it still is about me breastfeeding. Now they are claiming that my breastfeeding is child endangerment. That by me breastfeeding outside of my home I am putting my daughter in danger because a “pervert” might see her nursing. So the reason we are being threatened of eviction, if we get another complaint is child endangerment, by means of breastfeeding without a cover.”
Her property manager contacted NormalizeBreastfeeding.org by phone. He was very apologetic, he stated that he “never used the word eviction” when speaking with Missy. He reached out to fellow property managers for assistance, and then took the next step to review the Oklahoma breastfeeding law. He also offered Missy a formal apology, which she accepted.
Regardless of the apology, a nurse-in was held in solidarity to help make the neighbors aware of the Oklahoma state breastfeeding law!