My Resignation as a LLL Leader

I feel compelled to share publicly that I am resigning as a LLL (La Leche League) leader.  It’s with much sadness that I do this but the organization has changed SO much from when I started attending meetings 8 years ago for breastfeeding support.  This is the letter that has been passed along to the board of directors and my area.  If you feel so inclined you may share this post.  If you don’t agree with me that’s fine.  I don’t need to have everyone agree with me.  I need to stand up for my morals and this is why I feel compelled to resign.  I also feel I need to let people know about how LLL has changed.

I am beginning a new breastfeeding support group in Oklahoma City.  If you wish to donate a book to our new group please check out our wish list https://amzn.com/w/373SIWGRVGEVB.  Used books are absolutely welcome, if you need a mailing address to send a book please email me at ashley@nurturingbonds.com.

July 5, 2016

Dear LLL Board of Directors, ACL of the Kansas/Oklahoma area, current LLL Leaders, and whomever else it may concern,

It is with deep sadness that I write to you today and submit my resignation as a LLL leader. I have been a leader for nearly 5 years now (since September 2011) and have been active in LLL for 8 years now. The organization was much different when I first started attending 8 years ago, and because of the deep changes, I am submitting my resignation today.

When my first child was born I was not able to get him to latch on. I heard about LLL when I was in the hospital and started attending meetings when he was a few months old. I wasn’t aware of the support I could have received in the dark and trying times in those very early days but I received a large amount of much needed support later on. Because of the support I received, I wanted to give back to my group and the organization. Therefore, when my oldest was a year old I started the process to become a leader. Like with anything else I’m committed to, I dedicated my full heart to the organization. I completed all of the requirements in only 2 months, but the ACL in Utah told me I had to sit on it longer because it was too fast. I waited for a few months and during that time my family’s financial situation turned for the worse. As a result, when I finally was allowed to join, I no longer had the money to pay for the dues. I was told I obviously wasn’t committed enough. I explained that we had an extremely small amount of money for groceries each month after all other bills were paid, and I just couldn’t take the $65 that I had to pay from my family’s mouths to become an accredited leader. My group offered to pay for my dues but the ACL told me I wasn’t committed enough if I had to get support. I also suffered 2 miscarriages (my 2nd and 3rd overall) in that time. Even through all of this, I didn’t give up. I was fully committed. I kept waiting for the money to come. Eventually we had the funds for me to finish my application when my second son came along and we were preparing to move for my husband to attend graduate school. I was so excited to move forward and complete the preview, which was all I had left (I wasn’t allowed to move forward with it until I had the approval). I found out the week that I moved to Oregon that my Statement of Commitment was received and I was finally an accredited LLL Leader.

I loved supporting the mothers in Corvallis, Oregon. I was so grateful for an organization that supported traditional families while society continued to denigrate those traditional values. LLL’s philosophy is what made it unique and special. I was so proud to say I was a LLL leader.

About a year ago, the organization decided to revisit the father statement to see if LLLI should remove the word father from the following concept:
“Breastfeeding is enhanced and the nursing couple sustained by the loving support, help, and companionship of the baby’s father. A father’s unique relationship with his baby is an important element in the child’s development from early infancy.” (from LLL’s philosophy as found on LLLI.org). I applied to be part of the committee to revisit this. I wasn’t surprised when I wasn’t chosen. I know there were many applicants, but I feel that there was bias in who was chosen based on conversations on the LLL Leaders Facebook group. My problem is that when I signed my Statement of Commitment I was signing that I agreed to the philosophy as written at the time. I took that to mean that I wouldn’t try to change it to my own ideas later. I was agreeing that this was what LLL stood for. It shook my world to even find out that they were trying to change it.

My faith is extremely important to me. It is who I am, who I was born to be, what my ancestors fought for in the 1800s and on. I believe the family is ordained of God. I hold that to be an extremely important part of me. I was so glad to join a non-religious organization that was founded on religious principals, especially the importance of the traditional nuclear family and supporting mothers. Members of a Catholic Church congregation founded LLL at a picnic with the intention to support breastfeeding mothers. Even being of a different faith, that really resonated with me.   LLL has already strayed from these values and is straying even further.

I hold high moral values and expect the organization I volunteer for to uphold those as well, rather than changing with popular culture or bending to the will of a few very vocal people. God’s laws will always be God’s laws. We were created in His image and our gender is so very important to who we are. Our anatomy is a beautiful creation-we were made to grow babies and feed those babies! What an amazing thing! I love those that are different than me, many of my best friends throughout life have had far different views and beliefs than me. I feel with moral issues, though, it’s vitally important to not bend my morals in the things with which I choose to serve my time. I am expected to stand as a witness of God at all times, in all things, and in all places. We all have made mistakes, make mistakes, and have sinned. I can appreciate, love, and serve those who believe differently than me. I can be professional about those differences as well. However, I can’t volunteer for an organization that doesn’t hold the same value as me on the amazing true womanly art of breastfeeding and the role of being a mother that is uniquely woman in our Divinely created role being a female. I believe gender roles are Divinely created and want to serve in an organization that supports and values what our beautiful and amazing differences are, not just remove the Divine and unique role of a father because it will offend some (or possibly many in our society that choose to bear children outside of marriage).   I can’t serve in an organization that was created for women that doesn’t support the unique and beautiful role of women as nurturers, but instead bends to society’s whims and pressure.

Today, I’m having moral courage. Today, I’m standing up for what I believe in and feel is right. I know I’m far from having a popular opinion, but I don’t care. I know I was created by an all-knowing God, who gave me amazing, special characteristics, morals, and values. It hurts me to no end that this organization has changed so very much from when I started attending 8 years ago. Had I attended 8 years ago and had a male parent acting as a leader of the meeting would have made me hurt all over again after my past and traumatic birth. I had a safe woman-only space where I could receive help. It supported fathers as an important part of baby’s life. I had a safe place to ask embarrassing female and motherhood questions. I would never feel comfortable asking many of these questions that helped me grow in to my role as a mother had an identifying man been present, whether he has attempted or succeeded to produce human milk to feed his children or not. I must show my moral courage and step down as LLL leader.

I appreciate what LLL has given me. I hope to continue supporting mothers as a volunteer, but not for an organization that has changed its philosophy and is continually removing gendered language in order to support some parents that are very vocal and choose to be offended over the language geared toward the anatomy of how we were created. The philosophy is changing from within. This is not what I agreed to when I signed my Statement of Commitment. Thank you, LLL, for all that you have taught me and helping me grow into my unique role as a mother. It’s unfortunate that had my first child been born today, I would not find the same place and safety net that I so desperately needed. There is a great need for woman-only spaces for victims of abuse and trauma. I remind you and urge you to strongly consider this moving forward to help mothers overcoming these great challenges that statistically are getting worse as time goes on.

Sincerely,

 

Ashley Barrett

 

Just as a note, I will be monitoring comments so please, remember the golden rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you and if you don’t have kind words please leave them to yourselves and move along and we can agree to disagree.

Advertisements

4 thoughts on “My Resignation as a LLL Leader

    • They have been revisiting the father concept as I stated in my letter. The first identifying as male leader was accredited a couple of weeks ago as well. There’s been a huge fight within to change all language that is gendered (mother, breastfeeding, etc) to gender neutral language (parent or caregiver, nursing or human milk, etc).

      Like

  1. I fully support your choice to remove yourself as a leader. As an atheist, as you well know, if I were in a leadership position I would find myself removing myself from such a role as well. For me, it has nothing to do with religious rules or beliefs. As you said, as a woman who is beginning to enter motherhood you want a safe place where you can ask all of the embarrassing questions without embarrassment because you know all of the women there, whether seeking support or offering the support as a leader, has been there, done that. I have yet to meet a man who has gone through pregnancy, delivery, all of the changes that happen, and the difficulties surrounded by not just breastfeeding but the difficulties that we face as our bodies change and adapt and our emotions are all over the place. I would never feel comfortable asking questions about these things or even voicing that I was going through these things.

    Like

    • Thank you for your support for my decision. LLL states that the requirement for leaders still remains that potential leaders (of any gender) need to have fed their baby human milk for at least a year before becoming a leader. They stated that that’s at the breast but I do know there are a lot of pumping mothers that have had to exclusively pump that have applied for leadership as well-some have been denied and some have become leaders. The first identifying as male leader came right after they announced this after a very loud and vicious fight for a few years against LLL.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s