A taxpayer-funded charity that promotes breastfeeding has sparked controversy by replacing the word ‘mother’ with the term ‘breastfeeding person’.
Critics accuse the Breastfeeding Network of ‘erasing’ women in a bid to appease
However, the charity insists using terms such as ‘breastfeeding families’ helps broaden its message.
The Breastfeeding Network stopped using the term ‘mother’ on Twitter two months ago, switching to the message that it is supporting ‘breastfeeding families’
The row follows reports that hospital midwives have been advised to use the terms ‘chestfeeding’ and ‘birthing parent’ to avoid upsetting transgender people.
The British Medical Association has also advised its doctors to refer to expectant mothers as ‘pregnant people’.
The Breastfeeding Network stopped using the term ‘mother’ on Twitter two months ago, switching to the message that it is supporting ‘breastfeeding families’.
In one example from July, the charity avoided suggesting breastfeeding was a uniquely female activity when it promoted a blog entitled ‘17 things you should never say to a breastfeeding person’ and used the gender-neutral term in its tweet.
The last time that the charity appears to have explicitly used the word ‘mother’ in a tweet was on July 1.
Breastfeeding counsellor Yolanda Forster accused the charity of ‘erasing’ mothers, saying: ‘When it comes to diversity and inclusion, the Breastfeeding Network seems to be focusing mainly on one thing in their social media, which is trans issues.
‘It has funding from the NHS to run their helpline, and their mission is supposed to be supporting women with breastfeeding. But despite 98 per cent of the people they serve calling themselves mothers, that’s not the language they’re using. This is “mother” erasure.’
The charity, set up in 1997 and based in Paisley in Scotland, received annual grants from the Scottish government ranging from £40,000 to £120,000 between 2016 and 2020. It receives £150,000 a year from Public Health England.
The British Medical Association has also advised its doctors to refer to expectant mothers as ‘pregnant people’
According to the latest accounts covering the year to March 31, 2020, its total income was just over £1 million and spending on salaries was £708,746, up ten per cent on the previous year. Its helpline receives about 47,000 calls a year. In a blog post on its own website in July, the charity asked for pictures showing a diverse range of families breastfeeding, including trans parents.
A spokeswoman for the charity rejected the criticism, saying: ‘We aim to support all mothers, parents and families with breastfeeding. Our support takes a whole-family approach as we know that breastfeeding is better supported when more people understand its value.
‘There is no intention to exclude mothers or any individuals in our activities over social media. In fact, as a charity we want to ensure our support is respectful and accepting of everyone who needs our help.’
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