LOS ANGELES – When it comes to accommodating lactating students who would like to pump their breast milk or feed their babies, school districts in Los Angeles County get a grade of “D” on a report card a coalition of groups advocating reproductive justice released today.
And districts don’t fare much better when it comes to accommodating lactating employees. A teacher who asked to remain anonymous remembers her female co-workers would gather outside the bathroom, the only place where she could pump breast milk and “Moooo.”
The ACLU of Southern California (ACLU SoCal), BreastfeedLA (The Breastfeeding Task Force of Greater Los Angeles) and the California Women’s Law Center released the report card 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.
“Every major health organization recommends breastfeeding and recognizes its overwhelming health benefits for parent and child,” said Arissa Palmer, executive director of BreastfeedLA.
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.
Contact: Melissa Goodman, 213-977-5288, firstname.lastname@example.org Cindy Young, 323-210-8505, email@example.com Laura Riley, 323-951-9276, firstname.lastname@example.org