Mum refused entry to Leeds Grand Theatre bathrooms to breastfeed newborn son
A new mum was turned away from Leeds Grand Theatre after asking to breastfeed her five-week-old baby in the venue's bathroom.
Kirsty Marks, 36, was not a guest of the theatre but says she went inside the theatre while making her way home on Friday, October 22.
Mrs Marks, a web developer from Leeds, said she left feeling "distressed" after being refused permission to use the bathroom by two members of staff.
A spokeswoman for Leeds Heritage Theatres confirmed the incident took place but said it had been a "misunderstanding".
Mrs Marks said: "I tried to use the theatre's toilet, albeit not the most cleanest environment, to breastfeed my baby who is five weeks.
"Two people wouldn’t allow me to use the venue at all, not even just to calm my baby for five mins so I could continue the journey home.
"I asked them politely, told them my situation, and the first gentlemen said no. After which I asked him how to do I make a complaint as I explained that I’m pretty sure this is wrong and I’m not wanting [the toilets] for myself.
"He then went and asked another gentleman on the foyer and he said also said no.
"I was given no explanation as to why and the whole scenario was extremely distressing.
"I would have happily purchased a drink if it was needed for me to be able to feed but I wasn’t given the reason.
"I walked off as a emotional, new mother with a screaming child who needed feeding."
Mrs Marks said that she ended up having to feed her child in a nearby takeaway's toilets.
She said: "I couldn’t exactly walk in a bar and I thought the Grand would have been great safe, warm place to settle him.
"I had to degrade myself to sit in Raja’s takeaway toilets which was extremely unhygienic but there was no other places around there.
"I was so grateful the takeaway allowed me to nurse him in private but I thought the Grand being a public venue would have gave me a safe space to do it.
"As a new mum, already having a distressed, constipated newborn is enough, to then not being able to feed him briefly to survive our journey home was heart wrenching. I’m just grateful Raja’s takeaway in Leeds allowed me to use their premises without no need to purchase or ask questions"
A Leeds Heritage Theatres spokeswoman said: "Leeds Heritage Theatres would never knowingly cause distress to any mother wanting to use our venues to breast feed their baby, however it is our understanding that the women in question did not make it clear that this was her intention and only asked to use the toilet.
"As a ticketed venue, we do not allow access to any member of the public without a valid ticket as part of our strict safety measures.
"However, on the back of this incident, we will review our protocol to see if we can safely make an update to our procedure for this sort of circumstance, as while customer safety is paramount, we also believe deeply in being a family friendly organisation.
"We hope that the mother and baby are OK and extend a sincere apology for what has clearly been a misunderstanding.”
Leeds Heritage Theatres confirmed that it had been in contact with Mrs Mark and the incident been resolved amicably on Monday, October 25.