Public schools in California might soon be required to provide new accommodations for teen moms who are breastfeeding.
Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, D-Los Angeles County, has written a bill that would require schools to offer students the time and privacy to breastfeed or pump milk.
Garcia's legislation, AB 302, would not mandate construction of new space.
Instead, it would designate an area such as a nurses’ office or a conference room for students.
Without the allowances, Garcia said teen mothers will have to continue to choose between going to school and breastfeeding. Many, she said, choose formula over healthier breast milk for their infants due to the lack of time and a safe location to feed or pump.
“They have to give up pumping. Or some of them try to pump and they’re trying to do it in the five minute breaks and it’s not enough time," Garcia told Capitol Public Radio. "And if they are able to pump, they have to do it in the bathroom. That’s your child’s food. Is that really where you want to be?”
Garcia, who is not a mom, says many in her Los Angeles County district would benefit.
“For me, I had a lot of friends who were those teen moms. I still have neighbors or relatives who are teen moms. And I’m seeing the struggles they’re going through. And this bill idea actually came to me from teen moms at Bell Gardens High School that I’m an alumni from," Garcia said.
The bill has been approved by the Legislature, with some Republican opposition in each house. Governor Jerry Brown has until mid October to decide on it.