Media Advisory Issued Tuesday, 4/03/12
SEATTLE – Councilmember Bruce Harrell, chair of the Seattle City Council’s Public Safety, Civil Rights and Technology Committee, will introduce legislation from the Seattle Women’s Commission to protect a mother’s right to breastfeed her child in places of public accommodation free from discrimination.
WHAT: Public Safety, Civil Rights, and Technology Committee and Seattle Women’s Commission
WHEN: Wednesday, April 4, 2012, at 2 p.m.
WHERE: Council Chambers, second floor
Seattle City Hall, 600 Fourth Avenue, Seattle 98104
WHO: Councilmember Bruce A. Harrell
Councilmember Nick Licata
Councilmember Mike O’Brien
Julie Nelson, Director of the Office for Civil Rights
Abigail Echo-Hawk, Seattle Women’s Commission
Jamila Johnson, Seattle Women’s Commission
Emily Healy, King County Breastfeeding Coalition
Leah Tanner, Equal Start Community Coalition
Background and Supporting Documents:
• Council Bill 117416
• Seattle Women’s Commission Breastfeeding Fact Sheet
• Frequently Asked Questions
• “Fulfilling the Dream of Our Children” – The Liz Thomas Legacy Policy Summit to Eliminate Racial Disparities in Infant Mortality
• U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding
• Scheduled for briefing and discussion at the Public Safety, Civil Rights, & Technology Committee on Wednesday, 4/04/12, 2:00 pm.
• Council Bill 117416: AN ORDINANCE relating to Unfair Public Accommodation Practices; amending sections 14.06.020 and 14.06.030 to add the right of a mother to breastfeed her child in places of public accommodation free from discrimination.
Seattle Women’s Commission (SWC) Breastfeeding Fact Sheet:
• SWC has focused on addressing infant mortality for those communities disproportionally affected. Working with community partners such as the breastfeeding coalition of WA and the Equal Start Community Coalition we identified breastfeeding as an area in which to focus.
• In mid-year 2011 the US Surgeon General issues a call to action to support breastfeeding, this report cited research that shows that only 43% of American’s believe a mother should breastfeed in public. This research also cited restaurant managers, etc., who report they routinely ask breastfeeding mothers to leave, move or cover up. The mothers feel embarrassed and harassed and cite this as a cause to stop breastfeeding. This proposed legislation is supporting this federal call to action, specifically by working on a community identified issue.
(http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/topics/breastfeeding/calltoactiontosupportbreastfeeding.pdf see pg. 13).
• American Indians/Alaska Natives and African American women experience disproportionally high rates of infant mortality in at two and three times the rate of white women in Seattle. Breastfeeding is shown to reduce rates of infant mortality (SIDS), however by age 6 months only 13% of women are still breastfeeding. Breastfeeding has also been shown to reduce rates of obesity, diabetes and improve brain function just to cite a few additional benefits.
• In consulting with the WA Breastfeeding Coalition they shared the experiences of women who had experienced discrimination in public places such as restaurants, coffee shops and grocery stores. This was further expressed at the “The Liz Thomas Legacy Policy Summit to Eliminate Racial Disparities in Infant Mortality” where the goal to establish family friendly policies around breastfeeding was articulated. (see attached report pgs. 13-14, SWC was a member of the planning)
• The state has anti-discrimination breastfeeding law in place but many women didn’t know about it or how to file complaints. The WA Human Rights Commission (who enforces this law) suggested local enforcement would benefit those who were not aware of these laws and further support and protect them from discrimination. With the state budget cuts they have not been able to focus on outreach and education relating to this law.
• The proposed legislation would add breast feeding women to a class protected from discrimination in public accommodations. They would not be able to be told to leave, cover up or move to a secluded place to breastfeed.
• As part of their normal activities, SOCR will provide info on this at their tabling events and trainings. This provides a much needed educational piece for the public and those operating public spaces.
Frequently Asked Questions: Civil Rights Protection for Breastfeeding in Public in Seattle
What would this bill do?
If this bill becomes law, it would be a violation of City law to discriminate against someone who is breastfeeding in a public place. Individuals who feel their rights have been violated would be able to file a charge with the Seattle Office for Civil Rights, who would investigate the allegation.
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Joint Press Release (Seattle Women’s Commission) – February 1, 2012
SEATTLE – The Seattle Women’s Commission (SWC) is seeking candidates for vacant seats on the Commission. The Commission advises the Mayor, City Council and city departments on issues that impact women in Seattle. The commission identifies areas of concern and recommends policy and legislation, provides feedback and opinion on issues of city and state budget, and acts as a liaison between Seattle women and city government.
“I encourage anyone who has an interest in issues impacting women to apply for membership,” said Councilmember Bruce Harrell, Chair of the Energy, Technology and Civil Rights Committee. “This group gives people who are passionate about women’s issues the opportunity to be included in the discussion.”
As advisors to the Mayor, City Council and city departments, commissioners have the opportunity to address issues of concern for Seattle women and to work for positive change.
Terms are three, two-year terms and are subject to confirmation by the City Council. Applicants must live in Seattle and be available for monthly meetings from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on the 3rd Monday of the month at City Hall in downtown Seattle.
To apply for appointment to the Seattle Women’s Commission, submit your resume and a letter of interest by February 29, 2012. To reduce paper consumption, electronic submissions are preferred. Email your letter of interest and resume to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Applications can be submitted by mail to:
Marta R. Idowu
Seattle Women’s Commission
810 Third Avenue, Suite 750
Seattle, Washington 98104-1627
The City of Seattle is committed to promoting diversity in the city’s boards and commissions. Women, young people, senior citizens, people with disabilities, sexual and gender minorities, people of color, and immigrants are encouraged to apply.