It is amazing what can be accomplished when moms come together to support one of their own—even a young one. After sophomore Jaielyn Belong was denied breastfeeding accommodations at her Delaware high school, moms across Facebook came together to support her—and her local community rose up, as well. Outrage abounded that this girl would be denied the right to do what she felt was best for her son.
And the school system listened.
“She's allowed to pump her milk and they will provide a private area for her!” says Jaielyn’s mother, Betty Belong. Furthermore, she adds, someone has agreed that if the school will give her the space she needs, they will donate a refrigerator so that she will have a place to store her milk.
According to an interview with the superintendent (which can be found here), a teen mom in the school asking to be allowed to pump for her baby isn’t a situation that has come up before. According to him, it would seem that even employees choose to avoid pumping during work hours, instead pumping or feeding their baby immediately before and after work. Many breastfeeding advocates would consider this—and the policies, or lack thereof, that make it necessary—appalling.
What is this school system teaching mothers, that this young girl is the one setting these standards? Thankfully, Jaielyn has won this battle. It is unclear what caused the shift in sentiment—though letters from dozens of outraged breastfeeding mothers citing state law might be one very good reason—but the school does plan to accommodate her very reasonable request.
Teen moms exist. Accidents happen, and they aren’t swept under the rug the way they used to be. Homeschooling is a viable option for some, but not for all—and this teenager is staying in her school.
She’s changing it, too.