Saturday, 1 September 2012

Ian's Letter to LLLI

Update, May 2016: LLL changed its policy about the eligibility of Leader Applicants in 2014. Trevor became accredited as a Leader in May, 2016.

My partner wrote his own letter of support to the La Leche League International board:
Dear LLLI Board,

I am an LLL stakeholder. I am an “LLL Father” as defined in your Concept Policy Statements and my partner is an LLL member. These policies seem to fit me well. I support LLL, and I support my baby and partner’s breastfeeding dyad. These policies don’t need to change a bit in order to describe my role in our family.

Unfortunately, I see that these policies don’t fit a lot of people’s circumstances and cultures. They don’t fit my partner: he’s Trevor MacDonald, and he’s been breastfeeding our son for almost seventeen months.

As our son grows into toddlerhood, I watch as he comes back to the comfort and ease that breastfeeding brings. I cannot imagine anything else being so beneficial to him, and our dearest LLL friends are to be thanked. It was a difficult road to breastfeeding success. Trevor’s a devoted parent and I know his commitment makes him a skilful advocate of the art of breastfeeding. He was thrilled when he was asked to step forward and apply to be a volunteer Leader.

This sounds like a letter of recommendation and perhaps it is. Many have been skeptical of his motives, and have attacked what they imagine to be “our way of life”. Transgendered and gay people are excluded from the veneration of family life that is easily afforded to all others. Many people believe that GLBT people should have no reproductive rights to parent and raise children. Perhaps that is starting to change as more people recognize that GLBT people are not separate from humanity in general, in our activities and aspirations.

With that in mind, I am writing to request that you rewrite your policies so as not to exclude any breastfeeding family. Please allow Trevor and other GLBT people to participate in all levels of LLL.

Where we live, there is a human rights code that acknowledges gender identity and sexual orientation as protected characteristics. Would that were true in every nation. Although many human rights agencies have proposed this to the UN (in the Yogyakarta Principles), several nations are blocking this from being adopted. GLBT people are being routinely prosecuted, harassed, and killed in countries where LLL operates.

I am not asking LLLI to enter the fray and express an opinion about this worldwide struggle. However, I do believe that by emphasizing gender roles for parents, LLLI unwittingly facilitates discrimination against some breastfeeding families. This includes not only GLBT people, but also other cultural viewpoints and family circumstances.

I hope you will amend LLLI’s basic policy statements so as not to exclude any breastfeeding dyads and social situations. I urge LLLI affirm its support of breastfeeding without regard for any other defining characteristic.

"Ian MacDonald"


  1. You are so blessed to have Ian as your partner.

  2. I'm a LLL member, and I'm very disappointed in the way you've been treated :(

    I found enormous support immediately postpartum at LLL meetings.

  3. Beautifully written. Did y'all get a reply?