Dad Stands Up to Boy Scouts of America to Defend Breastfeeding Wife and Baby

Moms and babies shouldn’t need heroes to defend their right to breastfeed, but in a world where nursing is still looked upon as disgusting and something to be closeted, they surely do. John Kinker is a military dad who has had to stick up for his wife’s right to breastfeed more than once. He is not just a soldier, he’s a breastfeeding defender.  

My name is John Kinker, and I’ve been married to Tess for eleven years. We are blessed to have 5 amazing kids, all of whom were breastfed.  After nine years of active duty service, I decided to move our family back to our small hometown of Alliance, Ohio where we currently reside.

I was never raised around breastfeeding. As we began to have children, my wife insisted on breastfeeding being the best option for adequate nutrition. Based upon all the research about breastfeeding being such a benefit to mom and baby, it was a no-brainer that our choice would be to breastfeed our children.  When our first child, a son, was born that was the first time I was introduced to breastfeeding. At first I felt a little uncomfortable with it, but I wanted to support my bride. I watched her nurse, and thought to myself “how loving, how beautiful.” I was in awe of the natural bond breastfeeding formed between all of us. I never felt left out, as I snuggled with my wife and nursing son.

Our second, a girl, was born fourteen months later. Even though I wasn’t there for the first five months of her life, I encouraged my wife to nurse. I recall many emails and many letters filled with pictures, discussing how healthy and chunky our little girl was getting from mommy’s milk. I remember walking around the ship those five months showing off the beautiful pictures of my family. In a letter to my wife, I wrote: “I was showing off the picture of you and Ev  and one of my newly wed shipmates, who’s wife will be giving birth shortly after we return, asked me why you had the blanket covering your shoulder. I proudly told him you were feeding Katie.”

It was four years before we would have our third child, another son. Four months after moving to our new assignment, Tess gave birth to our third child. During this time, I had found out that our base had a thrift store. We started shopping there, and  while we did, my wife nursed.  As always, due to her comfort level and our beliefs, she would cover up if she needed to nurse while she was shopping. About two months after we began shopping there, a newly selected chief (a friend of ours) came to our home. He had me step outside- away from my wife- and told me that if we were to continue shopping there, that my wife could not nurse. It made too many of the volunteers uncomfortable. He said “you can try to fight this if you want, but you won’t win. Even if you do, it’s still going to come out bad for you.” My exact words to him were, “I will handle this, chief.”

I went back into our home, absolutely mortified at the news I had to tell my wife. When I did, the look that crossed her face mirrored what I felt… and she began to cry.  Despite any comfort I tried to provide, for the next two days, all she could do was cry. We had not just shopped there, but also volunteered there. The commissary didn’t have any problem with her nursing while grocery shopping… so why did the thrift store? After those two days, I couldn’t stand it any longer.  I did not want my wife to think that if she chose to nurse our child she had to give up any social freedom, and hide away from society. I got on the computer and pulled up the state, federal, and base laws concerning breastfeeding. I printed them out, and took them to the thrift store and the chief that had delivered the ultimatum. The chief got really upset, and yelled at me saying: “This wasn’t my decision, it came from higher up. I’m just doing what I’m told, why can’t you do the same?” It went up the chain of command, and eventually my wife was allowed to nurse and shop again. However, my stance to support my wife did end up costing us.

In the four years between that incident and now, we’ve been blessed with two more breastfeeding children. Those four years are full of fond memories, and bonding moments. However, with our fifth child, the peace would soon be shattered again. Our most recent plight has been one concerning the Boy Scouts of America, for our cub scout pack. My wife was the Committee Chair, and myself an actively involved Den Leader  for Cub Scout Pack 170. On July 16th, my wife went to her committee meeting with our youngest (#5) in tow.  I showed up about a half hour into the meeting. When I arrived at the meeting, I watched my wife silently take the verbal and emotional abuse of everyone there. It only took me a moment to realize what they were raking her over the coals about. Breastfeeding… as the CC during the meetings, and as a mother at the go-see-it’s, at the pack meetings, and at the Blue and Gold banquet. They were yelling at her that breastfeeding was disgusting, had no place in scouts, and that they wanted her to be removed from her position because of it. When my wife tried to defend herself by telling them about the laws that protected nursing mothers and their children, they shut her down. They said the BSA is a private organization. That her rights to breastfeed didn’t hold up, and her complaints would be treated much like the GLBT vs BSA case. At this point, I could not be silent any longer. I stood up, and started defending my wife and son’s rights. They said she couldn’t perform her duties while breastfeeding, I told them that she had at least one more hand free than a bottle feeding mother. They said that she didn’t take her position seriously, I told them to just look over the records of what she had done. There was more than adequate proof there that she was amazing at her job. They said that breastfeeding was sexual and had no place among the scouting organization, I said (the first scout) Sir Baden Powell, Jesus Christ, and most of our world’s great leaders were breastfed.  I explained to them that breasts were not any more a sexual organ than a hand or a foot. Formula was not created until 1876 by Mr. Nestle. They ignored me.

At this point they started to question my military service and condition of discharge. (Honorable, in case anyone here is wondering.) Then, the woman that took over my wife’s position after our removal, stood up. She got in my wife’s face and said: “I shouldn’t have to explain to my eleven year old daughter what you are doing under that blanket! It’s disgusting!” The COR, Distrect Rep, and rest of the committee said at this point they were advising my wife and I to step down because we were a liability. This made me sure that there was nothing more that I could do.  So, I picked up my breastfed infant son, took him to the van, and waited for my wife.

Husbands, support your wife if she chooses to breastfeed. It is an amazing experience. I can’t even find the words to describe how it will change your view, your wife, and enrich your family;  how healthy it is for your child and your wife. I hope that this would set the bar for other men -who’s wives are breastfeeding- to stand up in their defense should someone try to trample their rights. It is what a husbands and fathers are charged with… the protection of their family. Sometimes, it may come at a high cost, but it is well worth it.  It’s not just your wife’s rights to nurse, it’s your child’s right to eat whenever they are hungry! Don’t let ANYONE ever tell you that your hungry baby doesn’t have the right to eat just because it makes that person uncomfortable.

Do you think the Boy Scouts of America has a right to remove a breastfeeding mom from her volunteer position because she was nursing? 



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137 Responses to Dad Stands Up to Boy Scouts of America to Defend Breastfeeding Wife and Baby

  1. Danielle Rigg, JD CLC says:

    It’s in the best interest of both the Chartered Organization and the BSA to clean up their act and ensure that all volunteers are treated according to the letter of the law – without discrimination and harassment. Even more so, when it’s a vulnerable new baby and mother who are being bullied for engaging in a behavior which is beneficial for everyone not just the two of them –breastfeeding produces healthier babies, healthier moms, which in turn means lower health care costs for us all! We should be applauding all breastfeeding moms, not throwing them and their babies under the bus! http://www.bestforbabes.org/team-bfb.

    • Harding says:

      As a Science teacher at a very successful charter school, I am disgusted at the BSA. Science is part of BSA and this is not it. The sexual part of breast feeding is in the minds of deviants that put it there and nothing else. The science of bottle feeding is in the science of economics and not in the concern for the childs health. If some one looks at breast feeding as sexual, please go get professional help as you are a deviant aka pervert. The science behind breast feeding is rock solid and can even help heal the perverts minds if they decide to research it and heal themselves. My students will be much more educated and much less sexual deviants than the sickos in the BSA organization.

  2. Teresa says:

    I used to be a volunteer for BSA myself. BSA is basically run by volunteers off the street at local levels, which this article describes. Also, this article is written with only one point of view (the dad’s) and has no statement from the BSA organization itself. So I wouldn’t be so quick to judge the Boy Scouts. Sounds like he ran into a pocket of miseducated citizens at a meeting just like you would in any other public setting. You get them all the time, right? Saying it was the actual BSA organization itself is a leap. They should push forward and take this to the higher levels, the PAID levels, of BSA in an effort to educate not only these parents in question, but the boys. I have no doubt this family has missed a golden opportunity to show those other scouting parents just what a wonderful, natural thing it is to breastfeed. I think the BSA would actually be happy to have knowledge of this incident so that it may show support for one of it’s dedicated volunteers. Let’s not start a smear campaign until BSA sends a letter or judgment down against breastfeeding, please!

    • Dacia says:

      I would certainly hope that you are correct, and we’re dealing with pure and simple ignorance, and not an establishment that is backing these ridiculous statements of breastfeeding being disgusting and sexual.

      I look forward to seeing how the Boy Scouts do respond to this, and will not take an official stance until I know what theirs is. I would highly recommend that they get something in place to prevent such an atrocious act from occurring again.

    • I absolutely agree that this sounds like an ignorant decision made on a local level, not technically a “BSA” decision.

      FURTHER…I think it is irresponsible of “Best for Babes” to have run this story without contacting BSA to get a response. I absolutely believe that this event may have gone down the way that it has been described…but the parent organization should have a chance to respond.

      • Michelle Hickman says:

        Knitted in the Womb,
        When Tess first spoke with me regarding her NIP incident The Kinkers had already exhausted all of the avenues through BSA from local to national trying to get a peaceful and non-media involved resolve. As soon as I posted the Kinker story in the private Facebook group Target Nurse-In, which is comprised of moms who supported me through my NIP incident, and asked the moms to reach out to Tess Kinker with terms of endearment, the story began to be picked up by a couple breastfeeding bloggers. I offered the Kinkers my help to try to educate the BSA about what had occurred and to mediate an appropriate resolution between both parties. I called the BSA (national office) on August 16th as a representative of Best For Babes and on behalf of the Kinker family and left a lengthy and detailed message educating them about the incident, breastfeeding law, and warning the BSA that their continuation of non-responsiveness could potentially result in more unwanted media coverage and potentially national level coverage. The BSA still has not answered or returned any of my calls or attempts to mediate, and after 2 weeks of ample response time I posted this blog.

  3. brad says:

    I’m totally on board with a woman breastfeeding any where she likes but I must make one small point. Breasts are sexual…not in the way that these morons at this meeting were saying but they are. Men are attracted to women with shapely and/or large breasts for the same reason we like nice hips. They hint at our subconscious that a woman will be a good choice to procreate with. And why do our instincts lead us to believe this? Because we believe (on some level) that healthy breasts are good BREASTFEEDING breasts!

    • Kate says:

      Breasts are not seen as sexual or desirable in all countries. US and UK/Europe are highly influenced by the media. Other cultures find ankles, necks and hair sexual. Just because society says we should judge something as so doesn’t mean it is.

      Even if breasts primary function were a sexual one, it would still have no bearing on breastfeeding.

    • Breasts are sexual. So are mouths. Do we require women to hide their mouths because they are used for kissing and oral sex?

      No. In fact women openly get them injected to plump them up and make them MORE sexual. Commercials show women eating in a “seductive” fashion for the sole purpose of arousing men.

  4. John Kinker says:

    My wife and I are very appreciative of the support offered by so many. We are not trying to paint the scouting organization in a bad light. There are many accepting groups in this organization, and -in general- the BSA is wholesome and family friendly. Our plight first started with the local pack we were involved in, then the local council became involved, supporting Pack 170′s stance on breastfeeding; Further, making it difficult for us and our son to go to neighboring packs.
    On 8/16, before our son’s pack/webelo’s camp out, my wife was contacted by our son’s current cub master -a GOOD friend of ours- saying that their COR was contacted by Cynthia Gaines and informed of the breastfeeding situation. He said Tess was not allowed to nurse around the boys. It was our son’s birthday, and Tess had wanted to drop off cupcakes, but was told that if she needed to nurse, the COR said she had to walk back a mile to the hot van to do so. -The scout master had no problem with the breastfeeding around the boys, but had to follow the directive given to her.- Our son said: “I want all of my family there for my birthday. Why would I bring them snacks and let them drink in front of my little brother, if he can’t.” Our son chose not to go to this camp out because of this. He missed out on an important Arrow of Light requirement.
    What Michelle Hickman stated is true. We did contact a man named Dave at the national level. We were told that they do not have any regulations or policies in place concerning breastfeeding, or breastfeeding mothers. My wife was then contacted by Cynthia Gaines on 8/17, and she said: ” You are still in good standing with the BSA, Teresa. However, you just can’t breastfeed your baby around the boys. I know how discreet you are, but we just can’t have that around the boys. You can go to another room to nurse.” My wife is always as modest as possible. She was always covered.(Just to clarify, none of which, is required by Ohio law.) Our problem with the BSA on a National level is that hiding behind a “non-policy” as a policy concerning breastfeeding, has put them in direct conflict with own their initiative do your best. Their “non-policy” as a policy only serves to insulate National Council, leaving local councils and packs to deal with the large portion of issues such as this. This is how they protect their program and those involved?!? What are they teaching the boys involved in their program about traditional family values; respect for your parents, respect for others, and respect for the law. That the laws of our country and it’s states (AND individuals) are to be respected only when everyone involved is comfortable? On a case-by-case basis? Or that you only have to uphold the laws you choose?

    If people are going to contact National or Local Council, the only thing I would suggest is that you insist that they stop riding the fence on this issue. There are plenty of mom’s involved in the scouting community as volunteers, and they really need to think about those women and their children when making their decision. After all, a tiger cub can not be at any scouting function with out a parent being present. How would this affect a single breastfeeding mother if she wanted her son to be involved in scouts at that level. Or, even take into consideration the breastfeeding mother and her child involved as a tiger cub… who’s father is on deployment.

    • Charlie Holt says:

      John

      The Pack is owned by the Chartered Org, as you should know since your wife was CC. The COR has every right to ask any leader to step down. As long as the CO and Pack are not violating BSA policy or any laws, BSA has no place to step in. And as long as you belon to that Pack, yes, National will say you need to follow the guidelines set by the CO, through the COR. If you transfer to another Pack, then you are no longer bound by the previous CO’s guidelines.

      If you wish to change the original Pack, you need to talk to someone else in the CO, besides the COR, who laid down the law. Just out of curiosity, who is the Chartered Organization?

      • John Kinker says:

        Mr. Holt,
        Believe this or not… The Ruritan’s sponsored the pack in which this incident happened. We’ve made multiple attempts to contact them, to no avail. Now, HERE is where I’m holding the LOCAL COUNCIL accountable for their own actions…..
        We DID transfer our whole family to a different pack. When we did, the Field Director -Cynthia Gaines- contacted our new COR and stated that we were breastfeeding parents. That my wife was not allowed to breastfeed near the boys at all. As a private citizen or a serving as a volunteer. The new COR strongly agreed, and directed the new cub master to contact us and tell us. The parents of our new pack have NO clue about what is going on. They don’t know that my wife breastfeeds, and NONE of them have been asked how they would feel about my wife breastfeeding at the meetings. We are not even allowed to mention anything about breastfeeding to any of the parents.
        When THOSE facts were brought up to National, and nothing was said on how the Local Council handled it… THAT is where I find fault with the BSA. You do understand that the way things were handled by the Field Director makes things very difficult for us. What is to say that IF we moved our family to yet ANOTHER pack, that she wouldn’t contact that COR? And my wife (as well as any other breastfeeding mother) can’t be present at any of her son’s award ceremonies or pack activities? As I stated in my previous post, what about the single mom with a tiger cub scout, who is nursing her baby? National needs to take a stance and educate. I think they should have had a policy in place a long time ago considering that the BSA page quotes:
        “Can women be Boy Scout leaders?

        Yes. Every leadership position is open to women. In fact, more than one-third of Scout volunteers are women.”
        That is from their FAQ at Scouting.org. (http://www.scouting.org/FAQ/Volunteer.aspx)

        Notice, they are quoted as saying “MORE THAN.” Which means, out of the 1.2 million volunteers, MORE THAN 400,000 are women, have breasts, and can lactate! One would figure, with that many women being involved, they would have a.)run across this situation a while back, and developed a policy concerning what is currently being discussed, and, b.) if they haven’t already run into this problem, be more than willing to resolve the situation by stating that they are a breastfeeding friendly organization. I mean, considering most all women that give birth lactate, and all scouts have a mom… makes sense, right? If I were running a organization where 1/3 of my volunteers were women/mom’s that were darn good at their jobs, I surely wouldn’t want to loose them.

        One would conclude that after 102 years of existence, an organization that prides it’s self on “being prepared”, would have a policy in place concerning such valued members of our scouting community and family.

        • Charlie Holt says:

          John

          Those were details that weren’t in the earlier posts. The Field Director should not have contacted the new CC about this. But I still believe this shouldn’t be a National level yet, and can see why National won’t address this issue yet. That is akin to going to the POTIUS when you have a problem with your local Sheriff and Mayor. The next step should be to set up a meeting with the current Pack committee, COR, and Unit Commissioner, DE, and invite the Field Director to attend, and address these issues. If your in Alliance, it looks like your in the Sandy Beaver District of the Buckeye Council. If that can’t happen, or it doesn’t resolve the issue, then go up one rung, to the Council exec and CouncIl Commissioner. Then would be regional, then National. I bet it would be resolved long before National, and probably at this first step. If I have the wrong council or District, Please le me know.

          I’m well aware of the average ratio of female to male leaders. Our Pack is an oddity in that respect, that we have been tryin to change for the at least the three years I’ve been involved with it. We just now got our first uniformed, direct contact leaders Ina while, in our new Tiger Den and Asst Den Leaders. We’ve had behind the scenes Female leaders, but couldn’t get one in a uniform.

          As far as being prepared, unfortunately they fall far short of this on a National level. Two years ago, when all leaders were supposed to start a new delivery method, the training for that was not available until ; months after the roll out date. The same is happening with the Roundtable planning, where they now have the first few months of planning material available, but don’t have the whole thing available yet. As for a plan on this, I still feel this is best handled on an individual unit level, as the CO still has the final say on approval of Leaders. That won’t change without a completre restructuring of how the BSA operates.

  5. Andrea says:

    To be clear, The “Boy Scouts of America” did not remove this mom, two or three ignorant local volunteers did. I do believe the national council of BSA needs to form a clear policy supporting breastfeeding, but this was a handful of people persecuting one mom, not the whole organization kicking her out.

    And it is ABSURD to attack a mom for feeding her baby. How will you explain what is going on under her shirt? Simply tell your child she’s feeding her baby. What else needs to be said?

    Kudos to dad for standing up for his wife and kids!!!!! More moms need that support.

    • Paul Madsen says:

      The BSA as an honorable organization did not ask thee breastfeeding stop. Women who themselves are ashamed made the request. My wife breast feed our 4 children when ever and where ever our child was hungry.
      My youngest child has her own 1st child still breast feeds my 13 month old grand child. There is no shame.

    • Michelle Beck says:

      I think my reply might have been less gracious to that mother. I think instead I would have replied that she shouldn’t tell her daughter anything about it because her response might lead to her daughter being just as ignorant herself someday. I would say that I would tell her daughter that I was feeding my child just like most women do and how Mary fed the baby Jesus. My daughter is almost six years old and doesn’t even know that breastfeeding her child might be something she will be chastised and ridiculed for someday. She doesn’t even bat an eye at seeing a child being fed except to occasionally say that the baby is lucky to be getting mama’s milk and maybe a little bit of jealousy at not being able to have what my daughter fondly remembers as yummy food. (I nursed her until she was three)
      I sincerely hope this gets further attention but having been in an LDS pack with my son and knowing there is a separate and private lounge for mothers to nurse in at all of the church buildings where the meetings are held, I don’t think the BSA is going to come right out and support breastfeeding in front of the children unless they are ordered to do so. I do wish you luck in fighting it though and applaud you for standing up for your wife and your child’s rights as well as your own right to have a healthy child.

  6. Sarah Knoke says:

    This story makes me so sad, and mad! As a breastfeeding mother I know how important it is to provide for your child, and what infant should be told that they can not eat when they want/need to? The BSA loses my respect for not supporting the laws and this family. The law in Wisconsin states that a mother has the right to breastfeed anywhere a mother and child are legally allowed to be. It doesn’t matter if it is a private organization. (I fought Goodwill on this matter locally.) I know that Boy Scouts are an important part of a boys life for many families and I would be devastated if I were told what I were doing was “disgusting” by the people who are supposed to be helping my child learn moral values. Sometimes it come down to wanting to fight or appearing like you give up because you no longer want to be associated with those kinds of people.

  7. Jenrose says:

    Stories like this are why I only cover up if it is convenient for me to do so. So many moms get harassed for nursing under a blanket… people don’t care how discreet a mom is being. I actually never get bothered about nursing wherever I am, probably because people figure that if I’m comfortable enough to nurse without throwing a blanket over myself, I’m probably not going to give a crap about their tender sensibilities.

    As for “Not wanting to explain what is going on under that blanket”…Those people need to grow up and do their jobs as parents.

    “Mommy, what’s she doing with that baby under the blanket?”

    “She’s feeding the baby.”

    “Why is the baby under the blanket?”

    “She’s making milk in her breasts and the baby is drinking it.”

    IT’s actually a simpler conversation if the baby isn’t under the blanket.

    “What’s that baby doing?”

    “Eating.”

    “Is he eating her boobie?”

    “Nope, he’s drinking milk she’s making.”

    It’s only dirty and disgusting if the parent misses the boat and makes it dirty and disgusting and we don’t talk about it.

    Every time a parent makes a child think that breastfeeding is secret and dirty and wrong it makes it that much harder, 15 years down the line, for that kid to nurse a baby or have a wife nursing a baby.

    In my community, breastfeeding is valued, and nursing is allowed everywhere mothers are allowed to be. A significant number of kids are nursed into their toddler years, and we are better for it.

    Shame on this troop for treating their volunteers so badly.

    • Stephanie says:

      So glad for you. My husband approved of my decision to breastfeed. He would get embarrassed when I fed in public though (even though I kept covered) He was convined I’d get ticketed for indecent exposure, especially when nursing on the side of the road in the back seat of my car. I’m so glad to see a husband FULLY support breastfeeding. By the way, did people find it crude before formula was an option? Don’t think so.

      • Michelle Beck says:

        Actually…what is the most accurate question is do people get offended when a mother pulls out an artificial boob complete with a nipple in public? I actually sell Temptations Parties which is adult toys and in public events and around children of any age under 18 cannot be exposed to anything that resembles a body part…but we can openly wave around artificial nipples in public, shove them into an infants mouth and it is not considered crude? That’s how twisted this all is and how distorted our thinking has become.

  8. Dave says:

    Sounds suspicious to me. Our Boy Scout/Cub Scout pack (on a military base as well) has a breast-feeding Den leader, and there have been NO problems or complaints. Looks like typical Boy Scout bashing for not being PC enough.

    • Mama says:

      I don’t understand how a woman’s rights are an issue of being ‘politically correct’?

      It makes me sick that people wish to exclude women from everyday life because they are lactating and have a child that required feeding. It is a form of oppression as far as I am concerned.

      They had no practical reason for objecting – she was covering up with a blanket, so it’s not like there was anything they were seeing that could be misconstrued as offensive.

      It really does show how much some parts of the US are in the dark ages when it comes to women’s rights.

    • John Kinker says:

      Dave,
      I posted a comment earlier that you apparently had not seen or read completely. This is by NO means an attempt to “bash” the BSA. The initial incident happened because of a few ignorant people at the local level…. FOLLOWED by them being BACKED by our local council. We DID switch packs, only to find out from the new cub master that our local council had already contacted the COR of our son’s new/current pack. The COR of the new pack and the Field Director at Council both took the stance that my wife could not breastfeed (as a mother -private citizen-, OR any kind of volunteer) around the boys at all. National doesn’t want to take a stance on the issue, as they are leaving it to the discretion of the Local Council. So, in short… HOW is this about “PC?” This is about a mother’s right to provide nourishment to her child, and the child’s right to eat! This has NOTHING to do with being “PC” considering if the child was bottle fed, and going hungry, it’s demanded BSA volunteers report it as child neglect.

  9. Jennifer Bailey says:

    That is appauling that those women would do that to this breastfeeding mother!! I agree that this isn’t a Boy Scouts or BCA issue….but rather in isolated incident. But here’s the thing….as my momma always taught me “you can’t fix stupid!” Sometimes it is better to walk away and ignore them rather than try to change them.

    I was not breastfed as a baby, nor my sister. My family was not a breastfeeding family. None of my siblings had tried it, and my family was actually rather ignorant when it came down to it. When I had my children, it was something I wanted to try. After speaking with my doctor, he had told me the many benefits of it, one of them being it reduces your chance of getting breast cancer. Having breast cancer run in my family, it really struck me as something I should do. I do not regret breastfeeding my babies….it was such a strong bond creating experience and such a HUGE time saver in the middle of the night! Back to my family though, they were very unsure how this whole thing would play out….my mother esp. couldn’t understand our decision. But she did stop soon after the baby was born and begin trying. It didn’t take long for her to see that I had made the right decision and she was very proud of me for sticking to it.

    Stick to your guns. Breastfeeding is best for your family….find another organization that supports healthy families and move on. Your kids will be better off for it! And like I said…”you can’t fix stupid!”.

  10. Katherine Bailey says:

    ” . . . you just can’t breastfeed your baby around the boys.” This gives me the shivers. What kind of diseased mind says something like that? Who’s projecting what kind of unhealthy thoughts here? That’s the person who doesn’t need to be spreading his or her emotional problems around little kids. I know dozens and dozens of families whose little boys grew up in the presence of nursing moms and if anything, they have above-average attitudes about and respect toward women. This is outrageous. It is pure and simply a matter of people with emotional problems being allowed to spread their pain around and teach their bizarre attitudes to vulnerable children. How can that possibly be good for the boys in this organization? I hope some way is found to stop the REAL unhealthiness.

  11. Carl says:

    Oh my god the US needs to change their views!!! Here in Canada we encourage breastfeeding anywhere, anytime, it’s natural, accepted and nurses in hospitals really work hard to help moms breastfeeding. I’m tired of hearing how so many people in the US are offended by it, meanwhile they shop in malls that have La Sanza and Victoria Secrects pictures of half naked youg women, watch movies and tv shows full of breast and magazine, wake up people!!!

    • Misty says:

      I don’t think that attitude is prevalent all over Canada. I know I apparently freaked the heck out of some of my husband’s stepmom’s family when I breastfed in front of them. They were very surprised that I would do that. That being said, I do not judge the rest of Canada by what they do… lol. If I did, I’d have a very low opinion, indeed! I love Canada, except for them. ha.

  12. Robin says:

    I agree with one of the detractors. She SHOULDN’T have to explain to an eleven-year-old what was going on under the blanket. A child that age SHOULD know the best way to feed a baby (and many other important body functions). She probably doesn’t know a bunch of other important stuff either.

    • Exactly!

      For Pete’s sake…by the age of 11 I’ve talked to my children about pornography, sexual abuse including incest and rape, in addition to “normal basics” about how boys & girls bodies are different, how they change in puberty, and what sex is. Breastfeeding? PSHAW! Never really have needed to have a conversation about that since I keep having babies and my kids seem completely unscarred by seeing me nursing them…and sometimes when I’m around the house its not all that discretely!

      • Michelle Beck says:

        Another thing that struck me as a little peculiar was what her 11 year old daughter was doing at scout meetings anyway.

        • Michelle Hickman says:

          My boys are too young to participate in boy scouts, so I can’t begin to tell you what is normal for boy scouts. I do believe that boy scouts have award ceremonies and certain events in which the entire family of the boy are welcome to attend, so if I recall correctly from my conversation with the Kinker family the 11 year old girl was a sister to the boy scout.

  13. Carrie says:

    I am so upset and frustrated for your family. I am nursing my 7 month old and my 3 year old. I nurse them when and where they need it and I don’t use a cover, which is my choice. I have never had anything like what you’ve described happen to me, but I know that I would have my husband’s full support just as your wife had yours. Kudos to you.

    This is however another mark against the Boy Scouts for me. I am already uncomfortable with their stance on homosexuals in scouting. I was a girl scout, my husband was a boy scout, and I always assumed by boys would be scouts too. Now I am just not sure. It is sad that such a wonderful organization is making so many poor choices.

  14. Mrs. S says:

    Why is it that I can only seem to find this story in baby and breastfeeding sites? I cannot find it in any more common newspapers, at all. I would like to know, if this story is all true, WHO we are to contact at BSA to rally support for our breastfeeding mothers. Of all the articles I’ve read about this family and mother I’ve yet to see one petition or suggestion on what those, what 400,000, women can do. Thank you! P.s. I am committee chair for our pack and if someone told me I was not allowed to BF I would have told them where they could go. I also breastfed all three of my children past the age of 1:)

    • Michelle Hickman says:

      Mrs. S,
      When a NIP (nursing in public) incident occurs the victimized mom usually will turn first to her peers (other breastfeeding moms)for support. As most people in America know I was a victim of a NIP incident myself in Target, and I have now joined Best For Babes as a volunteer to help moms as we try to educate the public about our plight and to seek stronger breastfeeding legislation that includes enforcement provisions. When moms in breastfeeding groups hear a report of a NIP incident, I am alerted and I typically call the mom to comfort her and to offer suggestions of how she can use this incident to make a lasting change so that other moms don’t have to continue to be victimized. That was the case in this particular situation. The major media outlets have not yet covered this story, but I assume that they soon will. The Take Action page for Best For babes is being carefully watched by major media outlets nationwide for our reports on breastfeeding breaking news. I have my finger on the pulse of breastfeeding happenings across the country and I am, in most cases, the first person that is alerted.

  15. Tiffany says:

    Oh how thankful I am that your family has drawn attention to this issue! Keep going – as ‘easy’ as it would be to just drop it – I’m personally grateful you didn’t. I nurse our almost 8 month old and have a son in Scouts and a daughter in Daisies. Sometimes my husband travels so I just didn’t do Scouting at all last school year partly for the breast feeding reason. I have a renewed boldness from people like you as we enter Scouting again this school year.

  16. K says:

    In defense of the BSA in general, the conduct of the members in this particular instance does not reflect the experience my family and my husband’s family had with the scouts. As described, the people in this den handled themselves unprofessionally and in a manner that does not reflect the morals professed by the organization. The article does not mention if this issue was brought to national office or not.

  17. unlatched says:

    I received a response today from the Boy Scouts Buckeye Council:

    https://unlatched.wordpress.com/2012/09/04/response-from-boy-scouts-buckeye-council-re-committee-chair-voted-off-for-breastfeeding/

    …but apparently they are lying in this response, according to the mom in question. I sent you an email to ask for advice on how to move forward in this situation. Thanks a bunch!

  18. Penny Montgomery-Schlanser says:

    the funniest part (sarcasm) to me is the mom who said, “how am I supposed to explain this to my 11 year old daughter” LMBO!!! IT’S NOT THE MOM IN QUESTION’S FAULT THAT YOU AS A PARENT CAN’T EXPLAIN TO AN 11 YEAR OLD FEMALE WHAT HER BREASTS ARE FOR!!!

  19. John Kinker says:

    My wife, and THOUSANDS of other women, are permitted to be involved in the scouting organization and on the property in which scouting events take place, Therefor, this law protects nursing mothers and their children (NO MATTER WHAT AGE the child is) on scouting property, and within their organization. We only want the wrong that was done, to be corrected by apology and education, and mother’s and children to be able to nurse without harassment within the scouting community. We want to see positive change in a positive, wonderful and powerful program. We (up to this point) have been honored to participate in this outreach program, and would LOVE to continue to do so…. but not at the cost of our child’s needs, or my wife and child’s rights. Our goal by taking this public was to make aware the situation concerning the local level, educate, fix as to protect individual rights, and move on. That is STILL our goal. We DO NOT want to tear down this AMAZING program. We want to help build it up! We want to help make it a positive place for families, volunteers, and scouts.

    • Robin Clay says:

      Good on you, John !

      The Scout Movement is…
      The greatest
      worldwide
      movement for peace
      that the world has ever known.

      You can’t get much more “peaceful” than breastfeeding!

  20. Robin Clay says:

    It’s just a pity they were not sufficiently “prepared” ;-)
    e.g.
    “Tell me again – what were breasts created for?”
    “Do *you* think breastfeeding is “sexual”? If so, you’re a pervert, and shouldn’t be in Scouting. You need to see a shrink.”
    “Are you speaking purely out of envy, that you didn’t breastfeed / weren’t breastfed?”
    “To what exactly do you object? 1. The baby being fed? Have you not just had a cup of coffee? 2. Erm….”

    Any more ripostes in waiting out there ?

    • Annarella Prime says:

      As a breastfeeding mother of twins, I feel it is my duty to the next generation of parents to demonstrate that it is not only possible, it is quite normal to breastfeed, wherever you are. We have lost an element of inter-generational experience in our modern small, nuclear families. Personally, I was influenced by seeing my aunt and then an older cousin breastfeed. In particular an 11 year old girl should be encouraged to know exactly what’s going on under that blanket, for the sake of her rounded development as a future parent. My nephew is 12 and he is fascinated in breastfeeding and the babies and asks very relevant, quite scientific questions about it all. I will congratulate myself when he is a supportive dad in the future, as he no doubt will be!
      As a former CSL myself, I know that we as leaders are trying to prepare the young Scouts for a life as healthy people and responsible citizens within the community. To create further breastfeeding champions among these boys would be a job well done!
      Some of the Scout Laws are to be helpful, friendly, courteous and kind to other people- these offensive individuals have no place in Scouting if they are not able to be good role models within their Scouting activities. They should be extending every courtesy to a fellow parent and volunteer.
      Good luck and please do not be deterred from Scouting. The majority of people beyond your local area would, I’m sure, support you.

  21. Melly says:

    I emailed the BSA concerning this and of course received NO response whatsoever.

  22. Supportive Dad says:

    My family has not been involved with BSA so that portion I wouldn’t be able to comment on. However, my wife has also come across some resistance concerning breastfeeding. Fortunately we have been lucky enough to resolve things. However, one thought kept crossing my mind while reading this and tends to sum up our general attitude / approach when we do come across people who wish to stop her from being able to breastfeed: Since BSA (and local affiliations) have determined that your wife is not able to breastfeed, I would think there should also be a campaign to stop any mother from being able to bottle feed a baby at any of the events your wife is not able to nurse. In this way there is an equality for both sides of the issue. I realize this is a very unpopular approach and will not gain any momentum / support from others within the organization. However, such an approach could make a point. And since there was a concern about how well the wife could do her job while nursing, it could be interesting to note how often a bottle feeding mother has to stop what she is doing to tend to the various aspects of getting a bottle ready for her baby.

  23. Emily says:

    This is such a sad story. For a mum to be publicly attacked like that is terrible. Good on you John and your wife for standing up for yourselves. My husband is pro breastfeeding and i can only hope that he would be as brave as you if he needed to be.

  24. Tina says:

    Hi John, as a former Scout Committee Chair, active FEMALE parent of a scout, merit badge advisor, mother of an Eagle Scout, mother of TWO breastfed children and a professional in the business (Lactation Consultant), I would be happy to sit on any committee, discussions, etc. that may ensue between you, your family and the Boy Scouts of America. Email me.

  25. Camarell says:

    Has there been any kind of follow up to this by the BSA?

  26. Karen says:

    I am a La Leche League leader in the Washington D.C. area – supporting nursing moms and their babies. If this issue is addressed by BSA at a national level, I will join Tina and work with BSA. I am the mother of three scouts and was den mother for two of them. The number of hours devoted to running a den, much less being Committee Chair, is enormous. Scouting is part of family life. I am so sorry for the Kinker family that this happened. A group of people took something so important to their family and wrecked it.

    I started my first den when my youngest son was six months old. I was lucky because my father would come over and watch the baby and a young child of my coleader. When the baby got fussy, my Dad would bring him to me and I would nurse him. The boys never said a word. They learned a silent lesson on the normal way that babies are fed – with human milk, on the breast. I probably nursed on the campouts and at pack meetings – I can’t even remember because it was such a normal thing and my youngest is now 15 years old. He never used a bottle and he was always with me. There may have been people who felt uncomfortable seeing a baby nurse but that is okay. Different things make people uncomfortable and for a long time in this country, because formula marketing has made bottles seem normal, people are not used to breastfeeding. But those of us who are lucky enough to know the benefits of nursing and to have the support to nurse successfully, can set an example for others. That woman’s daughter may remember this incident, look into the benefits of breastfeeding and nurse her own children. I hope her mom will have opened her mind by then. Sometimes hostility towards breastfeeding women is from moms who were unable to breastfeed successfully or feel guilty for not breastfeeding when they learn about the benefits. Everyone wants to feel they have done their best for their children.

    The boy scout law calls for scouts to be, among other things, helpful,friendly, courteous, kind,cheerful and thrifty – none of which the people who did this to the Kinker family managed. The Kinkers, however, were all that plus BRAVE. They stood up for what they knew to be best for their family and other scout families.

    Thank you to them and please let me know if I can help.

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