Texas breastfeeding moms asked to cover up at Burleson Rec Center

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BURLESON -- Lucy Eades said she's breastfed her children in a Target while walking down an aisle. She's breastfed at a mall.  She's breastfed in a parking lot. And she's never been questioned.

Friday, she was.

"It's not you. I can tell anybody walking in through the door wearing a sports bra or a bathing suit top that you need to cover up," said an employee of the Burleson Recreation Center.

Eades' husband used his cell phone to record the confrontation between his wife and the employee.

Eades said she was walking in the facility wearing a tank top and nursing her 16-day-old daughter. They were going to a dance class for one of her older daughters.

"It's like she was waiting on us or saw us for a distance, but as soon as we came in, she told me immediately that I needed to cover up or we needed to leave," Eades said.

Minutes earlier, Ashley Kubacki said the same employee told her the same thing as she nursed her four-month-old son just outside the center's entrance.

"I walked up, and was nursing him, just because it's 100 degrees outside, and trying to cover his face and entire body, trying to nurse for such a short period of time -- it's way too hot to do that," she said. "It's not fair or realistic."

Kubacki didn't question the employee much, but Eades did.

"I told her, 'Ma'am it's state law. I don't have to cover up, and I'm just feeding my child,'" Eades said.

Texas law does say a mother can breastfeed anywhere, but the city-owned rec center was holding a camp for 5-to-13-year-old children and said asking the moms to cover up while near the public entrance was being respectful of "everyone's rights."

Eades is a mom of four children under five years old, and she is a passionate breastfeeding advocate. She also shares everything on her video blogs on her YouTube channel, which has almost 32,000 subscribers.

Her family has what's almost like an internet reality show. Which meant the confrontation was posted online.

"Okay, I'm gonna ask you to stop talking to my wife, that's what I'm gonna ask you to do," Eades' husband can be heard telling the employee. "If you want to do something about it, call the cops, tell them to do it. Otherwise, leave me alone."

Eades said they left soon after, so she was not sure if police ever arrived.

Eades and Kubacki had been attending an event celebrating World Breastfeeding Week just before they came to the class at the center.

The City of Burleson defended its actions in the following statement:

"The City of Burleson supports breastfeeding and appreciates recognition of National Breastfeeding Week. The city also supports the law, which states, "A mother is entitled to breast-feed her baby in any location in which the mother is authorized to be." Today, two women were breastfeeding in or near a public entrance to the city's recreation center where we were hosting a camp for youth ages 5 - 13 in addition to other recreation center patrons. To be respectful of everyone's rights we asked the women to cover up. There is nothing in the law that prohibits the city from requiring a mother to cover up. We also offered a room in an attempt to be more accommodative. The city did not attempt to prohibit breastfeeding and we fully support the freedom of mothers to breastfeed as long as it doesn't infringe on someone else's freedom."

Eades defended her actions, too.

"This is normal -- this is what breasts are for," she said. "And I told her that there are more kids in this lobby right now showing more cleavage and skin than I am nursing. Had she not made a scene, no one would have known, it was that discreet."

Eades added, "I mean the law is there for a reason. It's there to protect us and we need to make sure we are that voice. We tell them that's not okay. We can nurse where we need to."

E-mail twoodard@wfaa.com