SPRINGDALE (KFSM)- The Jones Center in Springdale apologized Wednesday (Dec. 17) after a Fayetteville mother said one of their employees told her to cover herself up while she was breastfeeding in the pool area.
Crystal Parson said she was at the Jones Center on Sunday (Dec. 14) for her son's birthday when her baby got hungry, so she breastfed him while sitting at the edge of the pool with her feet in the water.
"I was approached by a lifeguard," Parson said. "He walked around the pool where I was sitting, and asked me if I wanted a towel. I calmly explained to him, by law, I don't have to do that."
Parson also said the employee told her. her breast milk was a biohazard and shouldn't be near the pool.
In 2007, Arkansas passed Act 680 to protect the rights of breastfeeding mothers. The law states a woman can breastfeed a child in a public place or any place where other individuals are present. The law also protects women from prosecution for indecent exposure.
In a letter to Parson, the Jones Center acknowledged the employee was in the wrong and the center didn't intend to offend Parson.
"At no time were we wanting to kick her out or wanting to make her feel unwelcome," said Paige Ray, a spokeswoman for the Jones Center.
The letter stated staff at the Jones Center was "uninformed of the law and made a mistake in both the handling of the situation and of the perception that breast milk is a biohazard. We realize this was an embarrassing incident for you and your family and take responsibility for our part in it."
Ray said the community center will make state laws about breastfeeding clearer to their employees.
"We are a family-friendly facility that is totally comfortable with breastfeeding mothers," Ray said.
In the letter, the Jones Center stated it has now established an official policy that supports breastfeeding and "while the staff involved in the original incident has since been made aware of this policy, we plan to go forward with training our current and future staff of this policy as well."
To read the full letter, click here.
Parson said she appreciates the center's apology and the changes it plans to make to protect breastfeeding mothers.
"It's a step in the right direction," she said. "People need to be aware. They need to be educated, we need to be accepting of this. It's a normal, natural thing."
The Jones Center also promised to post signs inside the building stating it supports breastfeeding.