Breastfeeding mom explains OH museum treatment

Posted at 6:25 PM, Mar 24, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-24 18:25:14-04

It's not often that Emily Locke gets the chance to visit Cleveland, but this weekend was an exception.

"We were on our way to the reception for my sister’s wedding and we stopped to take pictures,” she said.

The Pennsylvania bridesmaid and the rest of the wedding party did their photo op in front of the restored carrousel at the Western Reserve Historical Society. But being the mom of a 9 month old, duty called.

“The baby wanted to eat, so I was like I really got to, I really need to feed him really quick, so I just sat down, found a bench.”

While sitting near the gift shop at the museum, two female staff members approached her and said breastfeeding was against museum policy and she needed to find a private place to finish.

But she refused to move.

“I was shocked. I just wasn’t going to stop feeding my baby just you know because somebody was bothered.”

Days later, she took to social media to express her feelings about the situation.

“I just thought that if I put it on social media, I thought some people would share it and the museum would see it and they would be compelled to do something because it was public.”

But with the breastfeeding topic being such a controversial debate nationally, Locke got more feedback than she expected with more than 12,000 shares and tons of comments.

“It’s definitely been a very empowering experience and very touching.”

That post also caught the attention of museum executives.

Kelly Falcone-Hall, president  and CEO at the Western Reserve Historical Society, said she felt awful about the situation and it was all one big misunderstanding.

“We responded immediately with an apology. The historical society has never had any such policy that would prohibit breastfeeding. We don’t currently and we never will so this was all very disappointing to me.”

Locke told me she's thankful for the apology, looking to put it all behind her, and she may even visit again someday.

“The boys loved it, my big boys thought it was a really cool place, so yeah, we’ll definitely take them back.”

Western Reserve Historical Society executives also said they have disciplined the two staff members who approached Locke that day and they will have a special training for all employees to be able to handle this particular type of situation better in the future.