A group of upset mothers left a Regal movie theater in Fort Myers, Florida, after one person in the group was told to cover up while breastfeeding her baby, local television station WBBH reported Sunday.
Lia Denison was among a group of 50 women who went to see “Bad Moms” at the theater.
“Then when I heard other women saying ‘He’s telling her she needs to cover up,'” said Denison, “I started crying.”
She said her friend, Juliana Valverde, had been asked to cover up while breastfeeding and then given a choice.
“That ultimatum,” said Valverde. “The employee was like ‘You can either cover up or you can leave.’ I was just, at that point, I was so hurt and walked away. Tears came down.”
Some of the mothers brought their children to the R-rated film. However, Regal’s policy does not allow children age six and under to attend R-rated films, even with a parent.
“They were outside dealing with the manager trying to get things squared away,” said Amber Cebull. “But what ended up happening was he was unwilling to budge on the policy.”
Cebull says while talking with the manager in the lobby, the mothers claim the manager went too far. They say he requested Valverde cover up while breastfeeding her baby.
“They can’t go everywhere,” said Cebull. “People don’t want them in restaurants, people don’t want them in other places, people don’t want them nursing in public. Where are moms supposed to go?”
Florida law allows women to breastfeed in any public or private location.
Daniel Garza with Wilbur Smith Attorneys at Law sat down with WBBH to discuss the case.
“Somebody can’t stop the mom from breastfeeding,” said Garza.
But he also says there’s an important question to answer.
“Was this mother kicked out because of the policy or because she was breastfeeding?” asked Garza. “That’s what we need to determine.”
The television station reached out to one mother who says some moms did re-enter the movie but were caught by a manager and asked to leave. Regal has not responded to WBBH’s request for comment.
Whether policy was broken or not, Juliana Valverde feels her rights were violated.
“There’s always people that are going to feel uncomfortable and they shouldn’t,” said Valverde. “I don’t need anyone’s approval to feed my baby.”