Private Space Must Be Provided To Breastfeeding Students

Baby holding hand

Last Updated on August 9, 2023 by Michelle Ball

By Michelle Ball, Sacramento California Expulsion, Special Education, sports/CIF, College, Education and School Attorney/Lawyer for Students since 1995

If a California student needs to breastfeed or pump breast milk on a public school campus, the student has a right to a private space, to possess breastfeeding items, to make up work missed while breastfeeding, and to other reasonable accommodations.

Teen mother holding infant in arms against chest
Breastfeeding students must be provided a private secure place

Right to a Private Room to Breastfeed or Pump Breast Milk

Per California Education Code section 222, students who are breastfeeding or need to express breast milk, have the legal right to be provided a space to do this. And no, the unsanitary bathroom does not count.

This should be a private, secure space where the student can feed their baby or do other breastfeeding activities, such as pumping breast milk.

Right to Bring and Possess Breastfeeding Objects

If the student needs to bring a breast pump or other breastfeeding implements onto a public school campus, they may do so.

Section 222 implies a request to bring breastfeeding items could occur first. However, arguably no request is needed to have a breast pump, which is not a dangerous object, regardless. If a request is made, any request should not be denied by the school.

Students must also be provided with access to power sources for their breastfeeding items.

Breastfeeding students cannot be punished for possession of lactation or breastfeeding items.

Teen girl sitting on grass head on knees
Teen mothers have enough to worry about, and schools need to accommodate breastfeeding needs

Student Leaving Class for Breastfeeding Needs Can Make Up Work

Students who need to breastfeed or express breast milk during the school day cannot be denied this right. They must also be provided with a reasonable time to complete this task.

Students also must be allowed to make up all work missed while they were away.

Students should request copies of any classwork or instruction they missed while breastfeeding and should be given extended time as needed to turn in assignments.

Breast Milk Safe Storage Must Be Provided

Students expressing milk and needing to store it, must be provided with access to a safe storage facility for their breast milk, by the school.

Baby boy, black white photo, in blanket
Breastfeeding students have an important job, which public schools must support

Which Schools Must Provide These Accommodations?

All California public schools, including public charter schools, as well as the California School for the Blind and the California School for the Deaf, must provide students these accommodations.

Denials of Breastfeeding Rights? Uniform Complaint Can Be Lodged

If a breastfeeding student is denied these accommodations by a public school, they may submit a Uniform Complaint with the school or school district pursuant to the Uniform Complaint process.

School districts may have complaint forms on their websites or which can be obtained by contacting the school or district office.

Michelle Ball is an attorney for students who assists all sorts of students, including breastfeeding students, in obtaining their education and other rights in schools. As a lawyer in Sacramento, she can help across the state, in Roseville, El Dorado Hills, Galt, Los Angeles, Fresno, San Francisco, and many other areas.