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Daily was wrong to claim term ‘breast feeding’ was unacceptable, IPSO rules

NewIPSOA regional daily was wrong to claim the term “breast feeding ” had been deemed unacceptable by an NHS Trust, the press watchdog has ruled.

The Independent Press Standards Organisation has upheld a complaint over a column, which appeared in the Eastern Daily Press, about recent guidance from Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust.

The comment piece stated that “breast feeding” or “breast milk” seemed “like perfectly acceptable words” but that the Trust had said were “no longer acceptable. Instead we must start saying ‘chest feeding’ or ‘chest milk’ to be more inclusive”.

But the column prompted a complaint by a reader, who said the Norwich-based daily did not accurately report the guidance issued by the Trust.

Complaining under Clause 1 (Accuracy) and Clause 12 (Discrimination) of the Editors’ Code of Practice, Kezia Parrott said the guidance stated that the terms “chest feeding” or “chest milk”, among other gender neutral terminology, were to be used “for the production of documents, protocols and communications” and “when discussing pregnancy, birth and parenting at a population level (for example, at meetings, study days or antenatal parent education)”.

The guidance went on to state: “These language changes do not apply when discussing or caring for individuals in a one-on-one capacity where language and documentation should reflect the gender identity of the individual.

“When caring for cis women it is good practice to use terminology that is meaningful and appropriate to the individual; this may include terms such as woman, mother or breastfeeding.”

Denying a breach of Code, the EDP said where the guidance had stated that it was not acceptable to use the term “breast feeding” to certain individuals, it was not inaccurate to report that “breast feeding” or “breast milk” were “no longer acceptable”.

However, on receipt of the complaint and prior to IPSO’s investigation, it added a clarification to the online version of the column.

IPSO found the EDP had reported that Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust had said the terms “breast-feeding” or “breast milk” were “no longer acceptable”.

It had also stated that “we must start saying ‘chest feeding’ or ‘chest milk’ to be more inclusive”.

The Committee ruled it was inaccurate to report that the Trust had stated the terms “breast feeding” and “breast milk” were not acceptable when the Trust’s guidance stated that these terms should be used both in one-on-one sessions with cis-women and that breast/chest feeding should be used at population level.

Therefore, the EDP had not taken care to accurately report the Trust’s guidance.

The complaint was upheld, and the full adjudication can be read here.