Update: AISD rescinds discriminatory breastfeeding policy. New policy must be written.

on Jan 02, 2013 in Central Texas News, Current Efforts, HMHB News, Local News

We have made a difference Austin!

Effective immediately the AISD policy which meshed federal legislation providing reasonable break time for nursing mothers and the Texas right to breastfeed law has been rescinded.

It was reported that the former policy was based on a common practice but never in writing and left up to the discretion of principal until Mrs Donmoyer (the mother listed in a previous post) challenged this practice and encouraged them to look at the law and develop a policy that complies.  What they came up with was just the opposite.  Who knows how many nursing mothers were made to feel ashamed for feeding their babies, but with your action it will not happen again (at least not in Austin).  If you never saw the policy, it stated:

“A district shall provide a parent or visitor who has properly checked in at a campus during the school day, a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion by the students, employees, and the public, which shall be used to breastfeed or express milk.

The principal or designee shall direct the parent or visitor to the place designated by the principal for breastfeeding or expressing milk.”

The current Texas statute states:

Sec. 165.001 – the legislature finds that breastfeeding a baby is an important and basic act of nurture that must be encouraged in the interests of maternal and child health and family values.  In compliance with the breastfeeding program established under the federal Child Nutrition Act of 1966, the legislature recognized breastfeeding as the best method of infant nutrition

Sec.165.002  Right to breastfeed

A mother is entitled to breastfeed her baby in any location in which the mother is authorized to be.

Federal legislation which gives moms the right to pump for their babies while at work states:

“An employer shall provide (a) reasonable break time for an employee to express breastmilk for her nursing child for 1 year after the child’s birth each time such employee has need to express the milk; and (b) a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from co-workers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk.

you may notice that the areas underlined in both the AISD policy and the pumping policy for employees are identical.  They were not however, intended for the same population.  This discussion has brought to light a larger question in the right to breastfeed debate.  The logic for this policy was that a mother is only authorized to breastfeed wherever the school district designated as the nursing / pumping room.  So if they designated a broom closet to be the breastfeeding / pumping room, according to this policy, as long as it wasn’t a bathroom and definitely out of view from anyone, it would be fine.  This logic goes completely against the intent of both pieces of legislation which is to increase breastfeeding rates, but it was their logic none the less.  If this was the logic of one of the largest school districts in the United States, how many others are doing the same?

Our work is not finished

Now that this policy has been rescinded, a new one must be put in it’s place.  Members of HMHB and the mom who stood up to AISD will be meeting with school board members to provide guidance.  Please add your suggestions and words of support here, at www.keepaustinnip.blogspot.com or by e mailing school board members trustees@austinisd.org

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