In a previous post, I described being booted from La Leche League (LLL) of IL, where I had worked as a Leader since 1982, for the crime of working as both a LLL Leader and a Breastfeeding USA (BFUSA) Breastfeeding Counselor. My accreditation with another organization was not surprising. Those who know me can testify that if breastfeeding is involved, you can count me in!
When I published my post, I was flooded with invitations from LLL Leaders and Area administrators who warmly welcomed me and extended their unconditional support. So many people wrote that it was impossible for me to respond personally to them all. If you were one, please accept my deepest thanks!
Although I had many LLL Areas to choose from, I decided what was most important to me was not the quality of its beaches (as one Florida Leader offered as an incentive) but whether my presence was likely to bring the LLL International (LLLI) hammer down on my new Area. I did not want to join a new team only to make their lives miserable by becoming a liability.
So when I received an invitation from LLL of Connecticut, I knew that this was a match made in heaven. These amazing ladies have become known for standing their ground against unreasonable LLLI policies and directives. Of course, disagreeing with LLLI’s administration these days is almost guaranteed to result in sanctions and threats, so when the LLL of CT Area team made its concerns known publicly, LLLI wrote them a letter accepting their resignations, which they had not offered. But LLL of CT has long been registered as its own nonprofit organization with the team as its legal representatives. This allowed them to thumb their noses and continue their work. They also bought their own liability insurance, so that could not be used as a weapon against them. When LLLI tried to convince other CT Leaders to take their places, these Leaders made it clear that this team had their full support.
I have a feeling I’ll fit right in with LLL of CT, which just yesterday became my official LLL Area. After all, as the saying goes, “Well-behaved women rarely make history.” As you might expect, my opinion on the issue that led to my actions has not changed. If anything, I am more convinced than ever that LLLI’s directive that Leaders must choose between LLL and BFUSA is divisive and therefore destructive to breastfeeding.
In recent weeks, people on the inside have confirmed that the goal of this directive is to undermine BFUSA, which includes ex-LLL Leaders among its founders. LLLI is headed down a slippery slope. In Illinois, nearly half of its Leaders have resigned in the last two years. It’s clearly time for it to look in the mirror and reevaluate its Leadership and its strategies.
I heard that one aspect of my actions was particularly upsetting to LLLI: my announcement on Facebook about my new BFUSA Breastfeeding Counselor status. Should I take this to mean that it’s all right for LLL Leaders to be involved with both organizations as long as they don’t say so publicly? Can we expect this to become LLLI’s version of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell?”
If LLLI wants to grow and thrive, booting out those who question it is exactly the wrong approach. LLL Leaders have never been easily cowed. Those who breastfeed long term are clearly comfortable following a different drummer. They are not women who can be bullied into following directives that are obviously wrong. Take it from one who knows… or ask the Leaders in my new LLL Area.