SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — A South Dakota mother says she was asked to get out of the water after being told she couldn’t breastfeed her baby at a Sioux Falls city pool earlier this month. In response, the city is stepping up training to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
“This is the natural way so it shouldn’t be sexualized in the way that it is,” Abigail Gukeisen said.
Gukeisen was in the lazy river at Drake Springs Family Aquatic Center on August 9 when she says she was approached by employees who told her she is not allowed to breastfeed her baby inside the pool.
“Lactating mothers will know. I mean, if we don’t feed our kids right away, whether we are feeding them on time or not, we still leak. There’s no guarantee,” Gukeisen said.
Under South Dakota state law, breastfeeding in public is allowed as long as the mother is not breaking any other laws while doing so.
“I’m very discreet about it. I’m not like just whipping it out and stuff like that. I try and be respectful (to people) around me,” Gukeisen said.
After leaving the pool, Gukeisen sent an email to the city.
In the time since, the city says there’s been additional training to make sure employees understand the law.
When asked about the incident, the city sent Nexstar’s KELO a statement saying it was aware of the law, as well as the “unfortunate misunderstanding” involving city staff.
Late last week, we were made aware of a negative experience one of our patrons and their family had at Drake Springs Family Aquatic Center. Less than 24 hours after the interaction, we reached out to the individual involved. We shared the City of Sioux Falls is aware of state law regarding breastfeeding and there was an unfortunate misunderstanding of it involving City staff. Following that conversation, additional training has been given to all staff at our aquatic facilities to ensure they understand the law that a mother may breastfeed her child in any location, public or private, as long as the mother is in compliance with all other state and municipal laws. Additionally, we are assessing how we better train our teams in the future, so this doesn’t happen to future patrons.Brett Kollars, Asst. Director of Parks & Recreation
No matter the city’s response, Gukeisen is sharing her story in hopes that what happened to her doesn’t happen to another mom.
“I just feel like stuff like this is still happening and maybe there needs to be some more changes to prevent these things from happening,” Gukeisen said.