A PERTH mum has told of her embarrassment when she was asked to leave a seminar hosted by parenting expert Maggie Dent because she was breastfeeding.
Renae Rutherford, 38, was feeding three-week-old Fraser in the performing arts theatre at All Saints’ College in Bull Creek yesterday morning when she got a tap on her shoulder asking her to leave the venue, reports Perth Now.
“To be asked to leave a venue that was hosting a parenting seminar came out of left field,” she said.
“I’m pretty resilient, but I burst into tears and felt embarrassed and humiliated.”
Ms Rutherford finished feeding Fraser in the foyer area. She said members of Maggie Dent’s team, including Maggie’s husband, noticed she’d been crying and were mortified.
“Maggie’s husband was very apologetic and said they would look into it,” she said.
“I was going to drop it,” she said. “But an older gentleman who worked for the events team came up quite aggressively and said: ‘I believe you have a complaint.’ He started lecturing me about their policy and how breastfeeding in the theatre was a hygiene issue.
“He was quite rude saying I needed to consider it was a theatre. I said I was at Heath Ledger Theatre last week and they didn’t take issue with me breastfeeding.
“I said I was disappointed and embarrassed for the school and he sort of scoffed at me and said ‘why would the school be embarrassed?’ He was just rude. He got me angry because he really belittled me.”
All Saints’ College apologised to Ms Rutherford on Facebook last night and said it wasn’t College policy to prohibit breastfeeding on school grounds.
The school said: “We are seeking clarification about this incident today … Every day, women visit our cafe and other venues where they breastfeed if they choose to do so … On days like today, many casual staff are brought in to help facilitate things such as the ushering, cleaning, catering etc.
“We will be looking into this thoroughly, but again, please understand that it is not our policy to prohibit women from breastfeeding at the college.”
Ms Rutherford, a mum-of-two, said she believed she wasn’t the only breastfeeding mum who was tapped on the shoulder.
Maggie Dent last night said: “I am very upset for the mums involved and very disappointed to find that a venue has such a policy in this day and age. We’ll be in contact with all participants about this and naturally we’ll be taking this up further with the venue.”
“As I always welcome breastfeeding mothers to my seminars, I would never have knowingly chosen a venue with a ban on breastfeeding for an event. I present hundreds of seminars every year and I have never encountered a venue that has a ban on breastfeeding, so I was as shocked as the participants.”
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