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

Written by Michelle Hickman

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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144 Comments | Last revised on 08/31/2012

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

  1. P.S.H. says:

    Dear Mr. Kinker,

    I am absolutely appalled at the way you and your wife were treated. The Boy Scouts of America had no right to remove your wife. As the father of a 22 month old son, who was breastfed, I am 100% convinced of the positive benefits of breastfeeding.

    You, your wife, and your entire family have the full support of all of us here!

    All the best,

  2. kimberley williams says:

    UM, seriously! There has to be some sort of legal options that you have. Their behavior was disgusting! Please don’t let this go! As the mom of a past Boy Scout, I am horrified at this story. I would get an attorney and file a lawsuit against the Boy Scouts of America. Go to your local newspaper and TV stations and stand up against these parents as well, at least you can fight to embarrass them (they are disgusting trolls too). There is support for you out there, you just have to find it. Good luck!!!!

  3. Erika says:

    The boy scouts are a disgusting organization and I will never let my family be a part of it.

  4. Leyla F says:

    Shame on the boy scouts…..and shame on the woman who didn’t want to have the conversation with her DAUGHTER that done babies are fed the natural way from a breast instead of a bottle. Way to go daddy for standing up for the very best thing for your babies.

    • Jenny says:

      Anybody wonder why children are so sexually aware so young nowadays? Maybe it’s because girls are hidden away from what their breasts are really for!

  5. Disgusting indeed…disgusting that BSA condones such shameful, inappropriate and hurtful behavior.
    Kudos to you for standing up for your wife and your son, and to all men who encourage, support and defend their wives/partners/loved ones.

  6. Ann Davis says:

    Unfortunately, the BSA does have the right to remove volunteers for any reason. The real question here is whether their actions were morally straight. This is a guiding tenet of Boy Scouts, to teach boys to be morally straight. How could treating any individuals in this manner be considered to be moral?

    • Michelle Hickman says:

      Ann, From what I understand, the BSA NATIONAL office told the Kinker’s that the BSA does not have a breastfeeding policy and that the Kinker family needs to take this issue up with their local counsil. The Kinker family has been told by the local counsil that they are more than willing to allow Tess and her sons to participate in the local “pack” (I think that is the correct BSA lingo) but ONLY IF SHE AGREES NEVER TO NURSE IN THE SAME ROOM AS ANY SCOUTS.
      I’m no BSA expert, but I DO know that scouts are taught to uphold the law. This is a legal rights issue where Tess has been afforded the right to nurse her child ANYWHERE by Ohio state law. This is yet another unfortunate case where the lack of education of breastfeeding laws, the willingness to comply to those laws, the lack of enforcement of breastfeeding laws, and the need for change is apparent.
      The BSA should use this as an opportunity to educate and not discriminate.

      • zada sorrell says:

        I don’t know the Ohio laws, but Illinois law states that a woman is allowed to breastfeed anywhere she is allowed to be. Meaning anywhere a woman is allowed to be breastfeeding or not.

        • Tracey says:

          The problem here is that line “allowed to be.” Since they are a private organization they can dictate whether she’s allowed to be at their meetings or not. I am so glad my sons chose not to be a part of this organization on their own. I couldn’t stomach it.

  7. steph says:

    Good on you for standing up for your rights and the rights of your child. I do hope one of these steps was going to the Boy Scouts Of America head office with a complaint. It does not matter if its a private or public org. Human Rights extend beyond this.

  8. Jen says:

    This is sad, but unfortunately not surprising, given the BSA’s repressed stance on other issues (homosexuality, etc). My husband was an Eagle Scout, but stories like these make us wonder whether we will encourage our son to join a program that shuns gays and breastfeeding moms. Good for you for standing up for your wife! I breastfed for a year and know how difficult it is- kudos for her for doing it for all 5 children! I am sorry for your family’s experience and please know that you have love and support here in Texas!

  9. HMS says:

    Good for you for standing up for her. I will never understand how some people can be so ignorant. My husband is also active duty and has been in for 7 years. We have a 13month old daughter and he has never been anything but supportive, not only for the amazing health benefits for both our daughter and myself, but also for the financial aspect. I do not walk around post bfing, simply because I’ve never really needed to, but everyone we know knows I nurse. My husband and I most definitely don’t hide it. In fact I think he loves the fact that not only has she never been sick bug she is huge! Breastmilk has done her body good! Because we are a military family, we live very far from family. The only way to see mine is a 5 hour flight and I always get so nervous that I will have to deal with someone who is ignorant to the fact that bfing is a beautiful thing. I always check my rights with each airline before we go but I still get nervous. I’ve been very lucky every time, but my husband is always saying it’s a good thing he wouldn’t be with me if someone were to say something negative about it (he’s never been able to fly with us). I’m sure he’d do exactly the same thing as you…but probably with a few choice words thrown in. I think it is vital to have a supportive partner and your wife and I are blessed to have such wonderful and encouraging husbands.

  10. Heather says:

    I want to commend you for standing up for your wife. And this is just another nail in the coffin for the BSA, and my family – I’ll never let my children participate in such a blatantly discriminatory organization.

  11. Robin Everritt says:

    I think that is absolute bull! I can’t help but think that it was a local/individual problem with the leadership. I will be sending a letter to the local council there expressing my disgust with this happening in any pack!

  12. Sue says:

    I am a beaver scout (ages 5-8years) leader here in the UK. I am shocked and disgusted by your treatment. I am due no4 anyday now and my bosses and parents are aware that I intend to BF in uniform and no one has expressed a problem with it!! Most parents have actually welcomed the opportunity to discuss babies, and feeding with their children. Much love to you all xx

  13. saradraws says:

    There’s a story here in Canada (Saskatchewan) right now about a woman being shunned and scorned by her whole community for breast feeding in public, and standing up for her right to do so. I cannot believe the attitudes are so hateful towards something so normal.
    I thought Boy Scouts were supposed to be honourable, leaders, upstanding citizens. This is disgraceful and you can be assured that I will never enroll my boy in not support in any way, such a bigoted organisation.

  14. Beth says:

    If I were the mother of a scout age boy, there is no way I would want anything to do with a troop led by ignorant idiots such as these. I certainly wouldn’t want them having influence over my child.

    • wih says:

      Beth – I hate to say it but it is not limited to the one troop / pack but to the organization as a whole!

      • Charlie Holt says:

        It is absolutely NOT the organization as a whole. The way the BSA is set up, the unit is owned by a Chartered Organization, and the COR (Chartered Organization Rep) has to approve all leaders for that Unit, and has the authority to remove those leaders.

      • Andrea says:

        My son is a Scout, and it is a wonderful organization. The values and skills he is learning are priceless. However, MUCH depends on the local volunteers. We visited one troop where the “scouts” were swearing and talking about sex, even though they knew my 11 y/o son was visiting, and a girl was throwing snacks across the room while the adult “leader” read facts out loud from a book. It was awful. I have no idea what the boys were learning or what was being accomplished.

        We chose to travel to a town 30 minutes away after visiting their troop. They have lots of camp outs, make sure the boys run the troop, make sure everyone is respectful, make sure everyone is learning, etc. Though it is a small troop, they do a LOT of volunteering and they often win the regional first aid competition after all the practice and preparation they do. Many of the young men make Eagle in this troop.

        The local volunteers have a HUGE impact on the quality of the experience.

  15. Melly says:

    Good for you for standing up for your wife! I am appalled that this occurred. Those people should be ashamed. I will tell you right now my son will never join the Boy scouts! I have proudly breast fed both of my children and am still breast feeding the youngest.

  16. Jls says:

    Looks like BSA needs to have breastfeeding education in their curriculum. I hope this has an impact so they do. I will not be signing my children for BSA!!!!

  17. Nancy Holder says:

    I do not think this decision was a Program-wide decision. Just because the people in this particular group are prudish about BF, doesn’t mean that ALL parents of Boy Scouts feel this way too. Please let us know if there is anything in their codes about it and YAY for supporting your wife and please keep us up on it. I never had a problem BF in public (covered) and always held that I was being respectful of people who were not as forward-thinking as myself, but I’ve changed, and I see that this is a PROCESS, YAY for being frontrunners to change this (me too!) but please don’t HATE the entire BS Program over it, it’s made up of people of ALL DIFFERENT persuasions, and is a GREAT Program, just keep being a person for good change!

    • Kate in Michigan says:

      You say BS is made of people of “all different persuasions.” Well, not really. Nope.

      I won’t allow my son to be in Scouts because (as we have discussed with him), what if one of his friends were gay, and they couldn’t be in it? What if a dear adult friend who was gay wanted his son to be in it, and wanted to be a Scout Master? They would be banned.

      My son (aged 8) agrees, and does not want to participate. But, no. Scouts is NOT made of people of ALL different persuasions. Just the ones the Boy Scouts deem acceptable and unoffensive.

  18. Karen says:

    John- you are an amazing husband and father, & Tess and the kids are lucky to have you fight for them as you volunteered to fight for our country. Thank you! It is always disappointing to discover people whom you thought of as friends really hold a distasteful view of you. I can’t believe how closeminded some are, especially since your wife covers up. (I have to confess I have eaten many times at Don Pancho’s in Alliance with my five babies over the years and I do not cover if at all possible to have my back to the restaurant )

  19. Chasity Doris says:

    As a mother of six children who was only able to successfully breastfeed my last baby, I commend you fro standing up for your wife’s right to breastfeed. I agree with the previous posted comment about the BSA not having a right to tell your wife when and where she could breastfeed.

  20. Gerrie says:

    Dear Mr. Kinker,

    The behavior of these people involved in your troop is reprehensible. It never ceases to amaze me as I watch people reject being educated on certain subjects. They seem to be enslaved by their emotions and prejudices. I’m sure it is not the official policy of the BSA to ban breastfeeding during meetings. Take your case higher, and don’t stop until justice is served. The people in this troop need to be held accountable for their DISGUSTING actions toward you, your wife and your child. They are the ones who should be removed, not your wife or you. I look forward to hearing how it all turns out, and my family and I will remember you and yours in our prayers. Sincerely, Gerrie

  21. Gail Smith says:

    I now have even more reason to abhor the Boy Scouts of America. The woman who got in your wife’s face and said nursing was disgusting is the perverted one, the amoral one. I am so sorry that more people did not stand up for your family. I feel nearly speechless that breastfeeding babies and parents are going through what is happening today more and more. The irony is that a breastfeeding family is bringing up children who have more love, patience, and indeed morality than any of those ugly detractors could hope for. What’s to be done?

    As a private organisation, perhaps they had the right to remove you from your positions. I would hope, though, that there was some way this foolishness could be prevented by updating certain regulations to prevent such behaviour even in private groups. Does the BSA not receive any federal funds at all?

  22. Tamara Peary says:

    I am so upset at how your family was treated. I can tell you that that is not the way all troops in the BSA are run. Maybe because we are in the midwest our troops we have been involved in have often had mom leaders, volunteers and involved parents..some who I can tell you and be witness were breastfeeding..but it was NEVER made an issue here. Shame on the ignorance of those in your group. And for them attempting to use BSA laws etc to hide behind to cover their ridiculous behavior. I had a similar experience in girlscouts years ago..and my only regret was allowing one group of idiots make me think all were like that. Check around. ..Not all groups are ignorant. I PROMISE.
    Again my apologies for ignorance and your hurt hearts. Realize not all are like this.

  23. Tamera M Weis RN says:

    Having been a Committee Woman for the BSA (We have 4 sons) I know that this is NOT the official position the the BSA. Generally the BSA is a very traditional family welcoming organization–and especially military members are honored and valued.

    THIS PARTICULAR LOCAL organization appears to be rather rouge in their abuse of this family. I do consider the woman who took over as Committee Chair to be very abusive and uninformed. (The poor 11 year old girl–with a mother like that just consider how confused she must be.)

    I think that the district and national officials should be provided a copy of the state and federal laws and the narrative of what happened to you along with a letter written to the editor of your local newspaper which basically says how out of step with BSA family values that your local organization is. Let them know that you are waiting for a response FROM THEM before you decide whether to publish your letter or not.

    I dont think that they will approve in any way–though because each local organization generally has local control they may not be able to do very much officially. However the possibility of publicity very likely will cause them to put pressure on them.

    Your local organization needs to be spanked!!

  24. CallieG says:

    This doesn’t surprise me about the Boy Scouts. They sexualized gay men as scout leaders, and now they are sexualizing breast feeding. I commend you for standing up for your wife’s rights.

  25. Matt Damato says:

    Thank you for defending our freedoms as a nation and for defending our breastfeeding mothers rights. It is too often that fathers stay silent in this battle.
    Our family of one 16 month old breastfed boy has encountered some similar issues to what you describe and it has even driven a wedge between our immediate family. I, like you have decided that I cannot stay silent while my wife and child are chastised for what we believe to be right for our family.
    Your story could not be more spot on with my thoughts and feelings. Thank you for helping me to feel that I’m not the only father out there who feels this way. And again thank you for you service.

    • Danielle Rigg, JD CLC says:

      Matt, you are among our protectors and defenders too and on behalf of all the moms and babies Best for Babes serves, we applaud you! Thank you!

  26. Kearsten says:

    I cannot believe how absolutely disgutingly you and your wife have been treated on more than one occasion. Nobody has any right to do this. Breastfeeding is as sexual as walking! It ‘has no place in BSA’, huh? I beg to differ. It is a fabulous part of nature…I think any nursing mammal would fit nicely into BSA. And why on earth would anyone need to EXPLAIN breastfeeding to an 11 year old girl?? Don’t we all learn what breasts do in our sex-ed classes, including the ‘puberty’ talk? Surely an 11 year old has had that talk already, either at home or in school (if not both) and a simple ‘she is feeding her baby’ would suffice….or is that too disturbing? Good grief…some people are sad cases…

    Complain when your not covered…..complain when you are. People need to stop being losers and get over breastfeeding issues…

  27. Sherri says:

    PLEASE, where can we write a letter of absolute disgust to the BSA? This should not be tolerated and should not be quietly pushed under the rug.

  28. Sherri Penko says:

    Unfortunately, this was one pack out of many in the boy scouts. Did the BSA support this packs decision? I have been the Pack and troop committee chair our our pack and troop as well as den leader. I nursed my youngest son who was two at the time and they had no problem with it. My suggestion is to take your loving service to another pack and troop who wil appreciate your time and organizational skills. not everyone is close minded on the topic of breast feeding.

  29. Sharon says:

    My family has been very involved in Scouts since our son was old enough to join. My husband is an Eagle Scout and is the Scoutmaster of our Troop. I am so sorry your wife, son, you and family were subjected to this. I was not able to breastfeed my son for very long but it was good for him for the time that I could. My opinion would be this – if you have a Cubmaster, Scoutmaster, Den Leader or anybody on the committees or parent volunteers that nurse, that the troop or pack be informed that this is just another very appropriate way to feed a baby, I would ask that the woman cover as best she could during the event so others would not be uncomfortable but I do not believe that our Troop, Pack or Crew would ever ask someone to step down from their position for this reason.

    I am sure you are now tainted against the BSA and would not look for another troop as many of the replies indicate that they have more reasons to hate the Boy Scouts. The Boy Scouts can have a positive influence on young boys mine included – it is also a safe outlet for him as he is Autistic and although it has taken some time the boys have accepted him.

    I wish you luck in your crusade – I do not think (but do not actually know) if National has any written rules on this, mainly because it used to be a more male run organization – but as more women are stepping up they need to figure it out.

  30. Stacey M. says:

    The way you and your wife were treated is completely unacceptable. Thank you for giving me ANOTHER REASON to not ever support the Boy Scouts of America.

  31. jamie says:

    Saying that the BSA were the ones telling your wife she couldn’t breastfeed is inaccurate. The group she happened to be sitting with, displayed actions that were absolutely appalling, but that is not the organization as a whole. That is only the small faction she was working with. i have also served in scouts in several facets, and have breastfed my babies while doing it, without a word. i am sure if you were to present this case before the actual BSA, you would find that they would support this mother.

    • Jill says:

      Thank you Jamie

      I actually came in to make a similar comment.

      Perhaps if the author actually took up this issue directly WITH the BSOA it would have a different outcome.

      • Michelle Hickman says:

        The Kinkers did take share their story at the national level, nationally there is no policy on breastfeeding for the BSA, and the Kinkers were told that the national level could/would do nothing, instead the Kinkers were told to “hash it out” with the local Buckeye Council from what I have been told. The Buckeye Council still stands firm in their stance that Tess can NOT nurse in the same room with scouts.

        • Sarah says:

          The local troops are run by volunteers. If the Kinkers have a problem with the other parents in their pack they should either find a new pack to join or work it out like adults. The end.

        • Michelle, do you have a link for that? I want to share that on all the FB threads where people are saying it’s not a BSA decision but a local issue.

  32. Bethany says:

    “I shouldn’t have to explain to my eleven year old daughter what you are doing under that blanket! It’s disgusting!”

    You’re right. You shouldn’t. She should have been taught that her breasts will one day perform that beautiful function. She should have been taught that breasts are not only sexual.

  33. Rosemary says:

    I too am an involved mom in BSA (Uniit, & district level). We have been involved with 2 different districts since DH is also AD Navy. I was able to BF my children at the meetings (as well as other moms) and no one has had any issue with it. Your UNIT decided it was an issue, but I can assure you that this is NOT the rules of National BSA, so PLEASE stop making it out to be a fight against the National Organization. It’s your UNIT that should be ASHAMED.

    • Diana Hanna says:

      It has been stated multiple times by the author, Michelle Hickman, that the National Organization HAS refused to help, and has told them it’s between them and the local unit. You can find her replies stating this in several responses. Here is a quote:

      Michelle Hickman says:
      September 1, 2012 at 5:37 pm
      The Kinkers did take share their story at the national level, nationally there is no policy on breastfeeding for the BSA, and the Kinkers were told that the national level could/would do nothing, instead the Kinkers were told to “hash it out” with the local Buckeye Council from what I have been told. The Buckeye Council still stands firm in their stance that Tess can NOT nurse in the same room with scouts.

  34. April says:

    I am totally fine with the BSA being against sinful, destructive behavior such as homosexuality. I am not okay with this issue, but I think it needs to be stated that this may NOT be the BSA’s official stance on Breastfeeding. My son has been in scouts for 2 years. I was the Tiger Leader and then just a VERY involved mom. We were in two different Cub Scout Packs. I breastfeed 2 different children during this time. I NEVER got ANY negative feed back. I think this incident is perhaps isolated to the pack this family was in. I am NOT saying it was okay!! I am simply saying I never had that happen. I was modest in my breastfeeding either being turned away, using a blanket or just being sure I was not exposed. I never left the room or had any issues what so ever. Good for this husband for standing up for his wife and children. I DO think the incident needs to be reported to the district council.

    • ciotog says:

      Your small-minded views against homosexuality are very much like to the small-minded views against breastfeeding.

      • Tara says:

        Seconded, Ciotog. Why are people so concerned with how others live their lives? Want to breastfeed? It’s not harming me. It is natural and must be working for you. Move on.

        In a homosexual relationship? It’s not harming me. It is also a natural and must be working for you. Move on.

        • Andrea says:

          Part of the Boy Scout code is to be “morally straight.” Homosexual behavior is immoral, just as sex outside of marriage is immoral and drunkenness is immoral. People who openly practice/espouse immoral behavior don’t belong in an organization that expects moral behavior.

          Part of the Boy Scout code is “duty to God.” People who don’t believe in God don’t belong in an organization that expects people to honor God in their fashion.

          Part of the Boy Scout code is “duty to country.” People who hate their country don’t belong in an organization that expects members to honor it.

          There are other organizations with different codes for people with different beliefs and behaviors. Those who want to be a part of Boy Scouts should respect the codes and expectations of the group.

  35. Megan says:

    I am so sorry for such blatant mistreatment of your family! My husband and I are expecting our first child December 10th, and I plan on breastfeeding, and not hiding away in shame! It blows my mind that anyone could be so ignorant!

  36. Jennifer PM says:

    Please post the most appropriate person(s) and place(s) to write to about this. The BSA has got to receive mail about this. Hopefully a flood of it. I’m so sorry you and your wife experienced this, my heart goes out to your family.

  37. Sara L says:

    I’m so sorry that you had this happen to you and your wife. They are WRONG and I will never support that organization. However, it is not the “world” that has a problem with breastfeeding – it is the USA. We recently lived in Germany for 7 months, and breastfeeding is both normal and expected. If you wanted to buy formula there, you would find a few small shelf of formual – not aisles full like here. We routinely saw breastfeeing moms nursing children of all ages, and no-one so much as batted an eye – even toddler and the moms that their tops pulled all the way down. USA – grow up already.

  38. The actions of the Buckeye Council are appalling. I can’t even imagine the ignorance and intolerance that has been demonstrated to the Kinker Family.

    My son just became an Eagle Scout, Boy Scouting’s highest rank, on Wednesday. He benefited so much from his hard work in achieving Eagle. I really appreciate the men and women who guided and advised him during the past 5 years who got to see a side of my son that I, as his mother, never see.

    I would hope that my son, who was breastfed for 3+ years, would speak out and take action, if a similar situation occurred here.

  39. I’m sad to hear there is still such opposition to something that in every way is of benefit to baby, mother and family, and I commend you for defending your wife and family. As the mother of a breastfed son, this is just one more reason my boy will not be a boy scout. I want my son to learn from people who model kindness and integrity, something I am seeing less and less of from BSA.

  40. Jennifer PM says:

    I just spent 10 minutes looking for contact info for this troop and was unsuccessful. Can someone with better research skills than mine post it here so we can write to them?

  41. Lynann says:

    I do not understand how any woman can call breastfeeding disgusting. I do not understand that level of ignorance. If that woman’s daughter chooses to breastfeed when she has children, she won’t get any support from her mother. How sad is that?

  42. Janelle Smego says:

    I’m so sorry you were treated this way!!! People are so stupid. My daughter is 11months old. I went to my primary care doctor for a chronic pain condition. Not only would he not help me, but he told me that I shouldn’t even take ibuprofen. I was in disbelief. To make things more ridiculous, he asked me how long I would be nursing. I said at least 18 months. His words? “Well after a year, its really just for you.” I was appalled. He told me that he would no longer treat me because I am breastfeeding.
    So, there are people, even doctors, who are horribly uneducated about breastfeeding. Its ridiculous!!!

  43. Elizabeth says:

    This has NOTHING to do with BSA. This has to do with a group of ignorant fools running a local cub pack. I have breast fed my daughter at my sons’ boy scout activities including Court of Honor and other events, as have other mothers in our Troop. I have not once been chastised for it.

    I don’t agree with the BSA on a lot of issues (including their treatment of LBGT leaders) but it is not fair to attack them as an organization for something they haven’t done. As far as I know, BSA does not have any anti-breastfeeding policies at all. The problem is with their local pack, not with the organization.

    • Sarah says:

      I totally agree with you. This needs to be dealt with among the parents who are running the pack. It is not right to take a private issue among parents and use it to condemn an entire organization.

    • Diana Hanna says:

      This absolutely has everything to do with the National Organization. They have been contacted about this, have refused to get involved or mediate or assist the ejected parents, and therefore have essentially endorsed the position of the local unit. It has been stated multiple times by the author, Michelle Hickman, that the National Organization has refused to help, and has told them it’s between them and the local unit. You can find her replies stating this in several responses. Here is a quote:
      Michelle Hickman says:
      September 1, 2012 at 5:37 pm
      The Kinkers did take share their story at the national level, nationally there is no policy on breastfeeding for the BSA, and the Kinkers were told that the national level could/would do nothing, instead the Kinkers were told to “hash it out” with the local Buckeye Council from what I have been told. The Buckeye Council still stands firm in their stance that Tess can NOT nurse in the same room with scouts.

      • Charlie Holt says:

        The local unit is owned by the Chartered Organization, and it was the COR (Chartered Organization Rep) that asked them to step down. There is no BSA policy on breast feeding, pro or con, so the COR did not violate any BSA policy asking them to step down, so the BSA has no grounds in revoking the charter in this case. The article makes no mention on who the chartered organization is, which is where the problem lies.

        • Jennifer PM says:

          So is the national organization not at all accountable for the actions of the chartered organization? Then they should be totally independent and not use the name of the BSA! If they’re a national organization, there needs to be some collaboration, and certainly not an abdication of responsibility as it was stated above, saying that the family should “hash it out” with the locals. This poor management is why it’s blown up to be a national issue, instead of simply apologizing publicly and promising to work on it.

          • Charlie Holt says:

            BSA Datrice/Counci/Regional/National would only step here if the Chartered Org and Pack are violating laws or BSA policy. Just as local owners of fas food franchises are allowed leeway in how the operate day to day, the same exists in BSA units.

            • Michelle Hickman says:

              Charlie, The local council is not upholding Ohio state breastfeeding laws that allow Tess to nurse her child anywhere she has permission to be. That is the reason why if the local level is not going to honor a woman’s legal right to breastfeed, then a need for higher levels to step in and rectify the situation exists. When both the higher levels refuse to deal with the situation and the lower levels refuse to comply with state law, then there is no resolution to educate and correct the problem.

            • Charlie Holt says:

              Michelle, there wasn’t an option to reply below your last comment, so I’m replying here. No, they are not violating Ohio law. The law gives her the right to BF, it does not give her the right to hold a position in a private organization. That particular Chartering Organization feels that it is not appropriate for the leaders of it’s Pack to BF in front of the Scouts. That is their right, whether we believe that is correct of not. The Courts have already backed that up with the cases of BSA not letting LGBT community be leaders, as well as denying professed atheists their Eagle rank.

  44. Here is contact info for both their local BSA council and the National BSA office

    Buckeye Council:
    800-589-9812 Toll Free
    Cynthia Gaines is the Field Director at Buckeye council. her number is 330-580-4272 Ext.133 her email:
    more phone numbers/emails at the Buckeye Council:
    Buckeye Council Facebook page:

    National Level:
    facebook page:

  45. Monica says:

    This has EVERYTHING to do with BSA even at the national level. BSA is refusing to stand up to the local council and request that they uphold the law. They are refusing to stand up for someone’s rights which shouldn’t surprise anyone as disgusting as it is. A few small minded, uneducated people that happen to be in charge of the local council have decided they’re going to bully a mom because they don’t like what she’s doing. What she is doing is not indecent, it’s not hurting anyone, and it’s protected by law.

    Ohio breastfeeding law:
    Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 3781.55 (2005) provides that a mother is entitled to breastfeed her baby in any location of a place of public accommodation wherein the mother is otherwise permitted. (SB 41)

    • Charlie Holt says:

      The unit is owned by the Chartered Organization, who approves all Unit leaders. The article makes no mention on who the Chartered Org is, which is where the problem lies.

  46. Emily says:

    Sounds like someone needs to stage a BFing sit-in at the council office! This is shameful. I agree with those who pointed out that it is a local issue. YES, there should be education at the national level and pro-BFing national policies written, but “we don’t have policies about it” doesn’t mean “we are against it,” it means “we are uninformed.” There are lots of troops and councils that would not act in this way. Hopefully this situation is used for positive change in the organization.

    • Diana Hanna says:

      This is not just a local issue. National is aware of it, they have been contacted and have made it clear they will not get involved or help the ejected and verbally assaulted parents in any way. This choice makes it unquestionably clear that National is effectively endorsing the position of the local unit. It has been stated multiple times by the author, Michelle Hickman, that the National Organization has refused to help, and has told them it’s between them and the local unit. You can find her replies stating this in several responses. Here is a quote:
      Michelle Hickman says:
      September 1, 2012 at 5:37 pm
      The Kinkers did take share their story at the national level, nationally there is no policy on breastfeeding for the BSA, and the Kinkers were told that the national level could/would do nothing, instead the Kinkers were told to “hash it out” with the local Buckeye Council from what I have been told. The Buckeye Council still stands firm in their stance that Tess can NOT nurse in the same room with scouts.

  47. Sarah says:

    As the wife of a Boy Scout cubmaster who regularly breastfeeds (uncovered- exhibitionist style) at pack events and has never received even a sideways glance, I don’t feel like this one person’s experience is an accurate representation of the Boy Scout’s official position. Packs are run by volunteers and those volunteers are entitled to their opinion- whether it is fair and kind or not. If this family doesn’t agree with the other families in their pack they should either transfer to a different one or come to an understanding with the other parents- not publicly condemn an entire organization without even including an official position statement re. breastfeeding from Boy Scouts of America. Without an official statement from the organization this article is petty and doesn’t deserve attention.

  48. Kate in Michigan says:

    Just looked it up.
    800-589-9812 Toll Free
    Postal Address
    2301 13th Street NW, Canton, OH 44708-3157 Map it
    General Email

    • Charlie Holt says:

      But what is the contact info for Pack 170? I can’t find any Pack 170 in Alliance, OH.

      • Traci says:

        It would be troop 170 and they are out of Circleville, Ohio. They are sponsored by a Christian Church there.

        • Charlie Holt says:

          Traci, as he stated in the original post, it’s a Pack, not a troop. And since he stated he lives in Alliance, I wouldn’t think he would travel 3 hours to Circleville for his Cub Scouts.

  49. Mellie says:

    My sons will never join the BSA! I am horrified by their hate- and ignorance- filled policies. Thank you for not only supporting your wife privately, but here, publicly as well. America needs more supportive men like you.

  50. Charlie Holt says:

    From what I read here, it seems that the problem is with the Chartered Organization NOT the BSA, but the article not only failed to mention that, it does not mention who the Chartered Org is. The Chartered Organization owns the unit, and is licensed by the BSA to operate that unit. It’s kind of like a franchise. The COR (Chartered Organization Reperesentative) has to approve all adult leader applications for that unit, so also has the authority to remove leaders they deem unfit. The Chartered can be just about any civic organization: Churches, BPOEs, Kiwanas, VFWs, American Legions, Optimist Clubs.

    I am a Den leader, as well as a Unit Commissioner and Roundtable (monthly District training meetings) staff member. I know of nothing, nor could I find anything in a brief internet and reference library search that the BSA has anything official against breastfeeding. The only thing I could find that might pertain to this would be appropriate clothing, but she was draping, so that would be a non-issue here.

    I’m assuming the District Rep that was mentioned in the article would be a Unit Commissioner, which is a volunteer who helps the unit with problems, and helps them understand BSA policies. A commissioner can give advice to the unit on what to do in this circumstance, and I would certainly advise them that the problem was with the other committee members, not with the breastfeeding mom, but he can’t force the COR to not ask her to step down.

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