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Norwalk schools appeal ruling for mom who sued after she was told she couldn't breastfeed

Wendy Wei

The Norwalk Board of Education has appealed a state Superior Court ruling that supports a mother who claims she was discriminated against for breastfeeding her child on school property.

Amanda Whitman-Singh is a lawyer in Norwalk who was told to stop breastfeeding her youngest child during a meeting with an occupational therapist at Cranbury Elementary School in 2017.

Whitman-Singh said the encounter left her fearful of breastfeeding in public.

“I felt shocked and humiliated when a teacher told me I couldn't nurse my youngest child," Whitman-Singh said. "After that, I was afraid to nurse in public. By asking breastfeeding mothers to move or cover up, Norwalk Public Schools is reinforcing outdated and discriminatory views about breastfeeding. This is degrading to the mother, it discourages breastfeeding, and it prevents breastfeeding mothers from being full participants in society if they have to hide or fear being shamed every time they need to breastfeed."

Whitman-Singh is being represented by the Connecticut ACLU.

A Norwalk school district attorney argued schools are not places of public accommodation, therefore breastfeeding is not permitted everywhere. This was dismissed by the state court.

Whitman-Singh has also filed a lawsuit against the state Commission on Equal Rights and Opportunities for dismissing her initial concerns in 2017.

“Public schools exist to offer their educational services to the public," Superior Court Judge Daniel J. Klau said in his August ruling. "That they do so for students in kindergarten through grade 12 does not undercut their status as places of public accommodation. It is difficult to imagine [the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities] not finding probable cause under the statute if a school told a person of color, a transgender person or a gay or lesbian couple holding hands during a meeting, ‘you can’t do that in here.’”

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Molly is a reporter covering Connecticut. She also produces Long Story Short, a podcast exploring public policy issues across Connecticut.