LOUISVILLE (AP) — Kentucky Kingdom says it will allow women to feed their babies publicly in any manner they see fit, a policy shift stemming from a social media outcry following a woman’s claim she was asked to breast-feed privately at the theme park.
The statement from Kentucky Kingdom chief executive Ed Hart reverses the park’s previously stated policy requiring mothers to “use discretion,” The Courier-Journal reported.
Hart’s statement says “we will leave it up to mom to make that determination and in no way will our staff interfere with mom’s decision.”
The Facebook post by the woman stirred a firestorm on social media critical of the theme park.
Renee Michelle Villatoro, 27, said she was asked to go to a designated area in a restroom to breast-feed her seven-week-old son.
She said she had to stop feeding altogether because she couldn’t leave her other children alone while they were on a ride.
“I’ve never felt ashamed (about breast-feeding) … and they really made me feel like I did something wrong,” Villatoro said.
She said she didn’t want to make a big deal about the incident because she wasn’t angry at the young employee who asked her to go somewhere else. Afterward, she called her mother, who told her the direction from the employee wasn’t legal.
A state law in effect since 2006 says: “No person shall interfere with a mother breast-feeding her child in any location, public or private, where the mother is otherwise authorized to be.”
Villatoro said Hart called her on Friday and apologized. She declined Hart’s offer to return her money.
Kentucky Kingdom policy had required mothers to “use discretion” when breast-feeding. But Kentucky Kingdom spokesman John Mulcahy said that while he couldn’t confirm the incident, an employee apparently made the wrong decision by asking Villatoro to feed her son in the rest room.
Shannon Stone, owner of Mama’s Hip, a parenting community that offers groups, classes and activities, said the incident came up on Mama’s Hip’s Facebook page as well.
Stone said the moms on the Facebook page had planned to organize a nurse-in at Kentucky Kingdom to raise awareness. She said she wasn’t sure if they still would now that the park had issued a statement, which she said was a good, reasonable response