(ENGLEWOOD, Colo.) — A group of Colorado mothers banded together in protest Friday after an employee at a water park asked a fellow mom to cover up while breastfeeding her son.
Charlotte Dirkes, 30, of Alamosa, Colo., was breastfeeding her 10-month-old son, Cillian, while watching her other children play in the kiddie pool at Pirates Cove, a city-owned water park in Englewood, Colo., on July 8, officials said.
She was approached by the park’s customer relations representative, who told her she had received complaints from other customers and asked her to stop breastfeeding in public, according to a Facebook group of moms outraged by the incident.
“It’s not sexual in any way,” Dirkes told ABC News’ Denver affiliate, KMGH. “You can ask any breastfeeding mother, and it’s very unsexual.”
While it is legal in Colorado for women to breastfeed in any public or private location, Mike Flaherty, deputy city manager and public information officer for the city of Englewood, conceded that the park employee asked Dirkes to cover up.
In reaction, the group of mothers arranged via Facebook a “nurse in” demonstration at Pirates Cove, where they planned to nurse their children publicly to protest the park’s disregard for Colorado breastfeeding laws, scheduled at 10 a.m. Friday morning.
Approximately 12 mothers showed up for the protest, the manager of the city’s parks and recreation department told Flaherty.
The protest apparently did not include Dirkes, who told the forum she lives three hours from Englewood and could not make it to the park.
Flaherty said that the water park did not comply with Colorado’s laws and, in the future, training would be implemented to ensure that all employees were informed of the state laws they are to obey.
“We made a mistake and, clearly, the woman was within her legal rights to do what she did,” he said.
Flaherty emailed a personal apology to Dirkes on Thursday on behalf of the city of Englewood, saying, “We recognize that your situation was not handled property [sic] and it has provided us with a valuable training lesson for our staff.”
Sara Dale-Bley, the Colorado-Wyoming liaison for La Leche League International, a breast feeding support group, said that Dirkes’ experience at Pirates Cove is indicative of an employee training problem for the city.
“They should make sure that employees are aware of mothers’ and babies’ rights,” she said. “It’s a matter of management to ensure that new employees are aware of the law.”
Pirates Cove manager Brad Anderson did not return ABC News’ calls.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Natalia Hepworth, EastIdahoNews.com
Emily Fonnesbeck, KSL.com
Jackson Adams, Teton Valley News
Julie Wootton, Times-News