August is Breastfeeding Awareness Month! In honor of breastfeeding Nebraskans, we sat down with our women’s and reproductive rights extraordinaire Scout to talk about four things you need to know about your right to breastfeed in Nebraska.
Why is breastfeeding considered a civil rights issue?
Scout: How someone chooses to feed their baby is a fundamental and personal decision about their body. Just as courts have long held that people have a liberty interest in deciding to use contraception or have an abortion, they also have the right to decide to breastfeed. In fighting for the right to breastfeed, we have to be clear that people have the right to choose not to breastfeed and no one should be shamed for how they feed their baby. For those who do choose to breastfeed, however, we must fight to break down barriers to breastfeeding, specifically for low wage workers, women of color, and those who work in male-dominated industries because a right means nothing without access.
Let’s talk rights. Is there a right to breastfeed in Nebraska?
Scout: Nebraska law is clear that a person has a right to breastfeed anywhere they are otherwise authorized to be. In 2019, the legislature went even further to explicitly exempt breastfeeding from public indecency laws.
Say I’m breastfeeding and I’m ready to go back to work? Is pumping covered?
Scout: There are state, federal, and local laws that may cover your right to pump and store your breastmilk at work. For more information on the laws that may apply to your specific situation see our useful Fact Sheet.
What if I’m a student? What are my rights regarding breastfeeding and pumping?
Scout: If you are a middle school or high school student in Nebraska, under state law, your school is required to accommodate you if you need to pump during school. Also, Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex (which includes pregnancy and lactation) and applies to K-12 schools, public colleges and universities and private colleges that receive federal funding. Title IX also requires that students receive the accommodations they need if they’re breastfeeding.
If my rights to breastfeed and/or pump are violated, what can I do?
Scout: If you feel your rights have been violated in school, you should make a complaint with the administration, Title IX office or a similar office. If you feel your rights have been violated at work, you can file a complaint with the NEOC. If your issue is not resolved or you need more information, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org