The ACLU Foundation of Connecticut will represent a woman in a lawsuit over the right to breastfeed without restriction in public schools, according to a Press release released last week.
In May 2017, Mandy Whitman-Singh was allegedly sitting in a classroom for a parent-teacher conference at Cranbury Primary School and breastfeeding her child when she was told she could not breastfeed there.
“I felt shocked and humiliated when a teacher told me I couldn’t breastfeed my youngest child,” Whitman-Singh said of the incident. “After that, I was afraid to breastfeed in public.”
Whitman-Singh met with the school district afterwards, and the administration “claimed that [the school’s] The policy was to restrict breastfeeding to a designated location,” the press release read.
Whitman-Singh later filed a complaint with the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunity (CHRO), claiming Norwalk Public Schools had restricted her right to breastfeed.
“By asking breastfeeding mothers to move or cover up, Norwalk Public Schools is reinforcing outdated and discriminatory views about breastfeeding,” Whitman-Singh said. “It’s demeaning to the mother, it discourages breastfeeding and prevents breastfeeding mothers from fully participating in society if they have to hide or fear being shamed every time they have to breastfeed.”
According to Connecticut ACLU Foundationit is “discriminatory for any public accommodation to restrict or limit a person’s right to breastfeed” under current state law.
The City of Norwalk and CHRO argued in court that public schools do not count as “places of public accommodation” and therefore the Civil Rights Act does not apply to Whitman-Singh’s situation.
Last August, the Connecticut Superior Court sided with Whitman-Singh and ruled that the schools fell under the category of “places of public accommodation,” meaning the Norwalk School Board violated its right to breastfeed her child.
“Public schools exist to provide their educational services to the public,” Superior Court Judge Daniel J. Klau said. “The fact that they do this for K-12 students does not detract from their status as public accommodations.”
A month later, the city of Norwalk appealed the superior court’s decision, according to the news release. The case is currently active, and the ACLU of Connecticut will now officially represent Whitman-Singh in future legal matters.