The Brooklyn Public Library has apologized to a Brooklyn woman who on two occasions was harassed by a security guard while attempting to breastfeed her infant daughter at the library’s Flatlands Branch.
The woman, Danielle Glanvill, contacted the New York Civil Liberties Union about the harassment. The NYCLU sent the library a letter on March 9 describing the incidents and proposing actions the library could take to address the issue, including apologizing to Glanvill and ensuring that library staff is trained to respect women’s breastfeeding rights.
The library’s general counsel responded in a March 16 letter, reiterating the library’s support for women’s breastfeeding rights and outlining its efforts to address the mistake. The library also apologized to Glanvill in writing.
“Breastfeeding is not a crime, and the right to breastfeed is simply not something that I am willing to give up,” said Glanvill, who is the mother of two young children. “These incidents were humiliating and upsetting. I’m happy that the library has admitted its mistake and is taking steps to ensure its staff respects women’s breastfeeding rights.”
New York's Civil Rights Law provides that a mother has a right to breastfeed her baby "in any location, public or private, where the mother is otherwise authorized to be."
Glanvill, who lives in the Midwood neighborhood, was first harassed in the library on Feb. 20 as she was preparing to nurse her two-month-old daughter. A security guard confronted Glanvill, ordering her to stop nursing. The security guard angrily stomped away after Glanvill explained her right to breastfeed in public.
The second incident, which involved the same security guard, occurred on March 6. Glanvill noticed the guard staring at her as she nursed her daughter. Glanvill asked the guard to stop staring as it made her feel uncomfortable. The guard aggressively asserted that it was inappropriate to breastfeed in public. Later, Glanvill spoke to the guard’s supervisor, who was similarly unaware of the law.
In the March 19 letter, the library’s general counsel stated the guard who harassed Glanvill has been transferred and that, among other measures, a memo explaining state breastfeeding law was circulated to staff of all the library’s branches.
“No woman should endure harassment for breastfeeding her infant, but the library agreed to do the right thing as soon as they learned about this incident,” said Ami Sanghvi, a staff attorney for the NYCLU Reproductive Rights Project, who represented Glanvill. “We are pleased that the library’s management was willing to use this as an opportunity to educate its staff on the right to breastfeed.”