A Kentucky mom who says she was stopped from breastfeeding at her children’s elementary school is now suing the school district.
Myranda Juarez was volunteering at Jeffersontown Elementary School, where two of her children attend, in March for school picture day. The mom of four, a member of the school’s Site Based Decision Making committee, had brought her infant daughter Natalie, and she started to get fussy as the event was wrapping up, Juarez said.
“I thought it was a good opportunity since we wouldn’t be very busy and there were students leaving to just go ahead and take that time to just sit where we were,” she told WAVE News.
Juarez started to nurse in the school’s gymnasium.
“My intent was just to calm my child and get her to sleep,” she said. “I tried to keep as much skin from being exposed as possible.”
As she was nursing, a school counselor suggested that Juarez move to her office, which she declined.
“I just simply don’t have to be moved,” Juarez said. “I didn’t prefer to be moved. I didn’t feel like I was making a disruption. I didn’t have anybody coming up to me and saying anything further and the volunteers and teachers I spoke with said they didn’t know I was doing anything more than holding her and on a phone call.”
Juarez said that the counselor then insisted that she move.
“She said, ‘I don’t believe you understand, if you need to be breastfeeding in this school any further, you need to be in my office.’ ”
“It caught me off guard,” Juarez continued. “I tried to retain my composure.”
Juarez met with the school principal a few days later, where she was told that the counselor was following instructions and that breastfeeding is only allowed in private offices at the school.
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Breastfeeding in public is legal in all 50 states, including Kentucky, and that law encompasses public schools.
Jefferson County Schools does not comment on pending litigation, they told PEOPLE when contacted.
Juarez said that the school has stopped her from volunteering and she has now missed events with her children. She is now suing Jefferson County Schools and seeking damages. She also wants the county to give their staff sensitivity training.
“It’s really another example of JCPS not enforcing the laws and something that is really clear,” her attorney, Andrew Mize, said.
Juarez said that the school’s limits on breastfeeding stopped her from spending time with her kids.
“I just don’t feel I should be inconvenienced like any other family wouldn’t be if they had a bottle to feed their child,” she said. “If I have to leave and go behind a closed door to rejoin my family later, or ask someone else to take part of my family and hold them at home, it’s not us enjoying those events all together.”