The ACLU of Southern California (ACLU SoCal), BreastfeedLA (The Breastfeeding Task Force of Greater Los Angeles) and the California Women’s Law Center released a report entitled ABC’s of Breastfeeding in Los Angeles County School Districts showing that 68 of the county’s 81 school districts received a grade of “C” or worse, and 21 received an “F” or “F-minus.”
The Torrance Unified School District is the only one to receive an “A”.
“State and federal law require school districts to provide employees and students with accommodations that allow them to continue breastfeeding after the birth of their babies,” said Melissa Goodman, Director, LGBTQ, Gender and Reproductive Justice Project at ACLU So Cal.
And state law was strengthened earlier this month when Gov. Jerry Brown signed AB 302 making it “crystal clear” the duties schools owe to lactating students, she said. Districts now must make sure they are in compliance with this new law, she added, and develop clear complaint processes and provide staffers to handle lactation-related problems and complaints.
The report card graded school districts based on whether their overall policies are easily accessible. The survey also checked whether districts have clear policies governing pregnant and parenting students, a student policy that includes lactation accommodation—time and space to pump milk, other than a toilet stall–and an identifiable Title IX Coordinator on staff.
Despite these clear legal obligations, Palmer said, “Our organizations have received many complaints and questions from parenting employees and students who do not know their lactation rights, have faced difficulties when they need to pump milk on the job or during the school day, and do not know who to turn to within the school community for help.”
Those complaints prompted BreastfeedLA to do a survey to determine how many school districts in the county have clear and accessible lactation policies and Title IX Coordinators.
Only a third of school districts had lactation accommodation policies for employees, and only 17 percent had lactation accommodations policies for students. Only 23 percent had an easily identifiable Title IX Coordinator, a designated person districts must have who can ensure compliance with laws that require lactation accommodations and handle lactation-related complaints.
The report card also provides school districts with practical tips and tools for meeting their legal requirements and supporting breastfeeding employees and students, including implementing the new state law Gov. Brown signed.
Along with the report card, the organizations also released legal resources spelling out federal and state law on lactation accommodations.
Laws requiring school districts to accommodate and not discriminate against lactating employees and students.
Prohibits sex discrimination in educational institutions that receive federal funds. Requires that pregnant students and those recovering from childbirth-related conditions be provided with the same accommodations and support services available to other students with similar temporary medical needs.
Prohibits discrimination against students based on parental status, pregnancy, childbirth, recovery from childbirth and related conditions.
Department of Education Office for Civil Rights, Supporting the Academic Success of Pregnant and Parenting Students under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (2013)
Explains students’ legal right to lactation accommodations under Title IX. Encourages schools to designate a private room for young mothers to breastfeed, express breast milk, or address other needs related to breastfeeding during the school day.
Fair Labor Standards Act/Affordable Care Act
Requires employers to provide lactating mothers with breaks and a private location (other than a restroom) to express breast milk.
Title VII/Pregnancy Discrimination Act
Prohibits sex discrimination in employment. Sex discrimination includes discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. Requires women affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions be treated the same for all employment-related purposes, as other persons with temporary medical conditions.
Requires women affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions be treated the same for all employment-related purposes, as other persons with temporary medical conditions.
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Enforcement Guidance: Pregnancy Discrimination and Related Issues (2015)
Explains that Title VII prohibits discrimination based on lactation and breastfeeding. Lactating mothers must get the same type of accommodations given to employees with other similar temporary medical needs.
California Education Code/California Sex Equity in Education Act
Schools have an affirmative obligation to combat sexism, other forms of bias, and to provide equal educational opportunity to all students.
Prohibits schools that receive support from the state from discriminating based on sex, and provides that all persons in public schools, regardless of their gender, gender identity, or gender expression have equal rights and opportunities in their educational institution.
Cal. Ed. Code § 222 (new, added by AB 302)