An Arizona mom is speaking out after she says she was stopped from breastfeeding her newborn son during a visit to her daughter’s elementary school.
Theresa Phillips says she was invited to Kiva Elementary School in Paradise Valley to bring snacks for her first-grade daughter’s “Special Person’s Week” when her newborn son wanted to nurse. The mom of four was sitting outside with her daughter during recess and started to breastfeed when the assistant principal walked up and asked her to move to a private area.
In a video of the incident that Phillips posted on Facebook, the assistant principal offered to put Phillips in a separate room “to have some privacy,” which she said she didn’t need.
“I would prefer that,” he responded. “For you and the children.”
He then asked to speak with Phillips in another room to talk, but she declined.
Breastfeeding in public is legal in all 50 states, including Arizona.
PEOPLE is not sharing the video as it shows minors without consent.
In a letter from the school’s principal sent out to parents on Wednesday night, which the Scottsdale Unified School District shared with PEOPLE, she said that the assistant principal intervened because Phillips was explaining how breastfeeding works to the students.
In an interview with NBC12 News, Phillips said that she didn’t want to back down from her legal right in front of her daughter.
“I didn’t want to cause a scene but I would have had to have left, I would have had to have left my daughter and put into a room, and that would have shown her that that was okay, and I don’t want her to feel like that’s okay,” she said.
In a statement shared with PEOPLE, the school district said that they did not want the other children “exposed to breastfeeding” against parental wishes or filmed without permission in the videos that Phillips put on Facebook.
“While we as adults understand the important connection and health benefits realized for mother and child through this form of nourishment, we also realize some parents may not wish to have their children exposed to breastfeeding and to be filmed by an unknown adult at school without their prior permission,” the statement says.
They also refuted Phillips’ claim that she was told to stop breastfeeding.
“She was simply offered an alternative space because they recognized that not all activities are age-appropriate.”
Phillips is hosting a nurse-in at the school on Friday to protest the incident.
“Nursing our children is safe and witnessing breastfeeding is even safer,” she wrote on the event page. “Let’s let the world know we know our rightful place as well as our rights!”
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