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Is Breastfeeding Indecent Exposure?

Is Breastfeeding Indecent Exposure?

The nature of breastfeeding isn’t sexual; it is to provide necessary nourishment for babies. However, there is some confusion about whether or not it is legal to breastfeed in public due to indecent exposure laws.

What is ‘indecent exposure?’

Indecent exposure is a criminal offense that occurs when someone shows their sexual organs in public.

In some situations, breasts would be considered sexual organs. For example, women are required to wear shirts or tops at the beach.

Breastfeeding Exemption

In 2001, Florida passed a law excluding breastfeeding from qualifying as a sexual offense, such as:

  • Indecent exposure
  • Lewdness
  • Sexual conduct

In Florida, women can breastfeed in any public location where they are allowed to be. They are not required to cover up to be discreet while feeding.

Can businesses ask you to leave for breastfeeding?

This is where breastfeeding laws become more complicated.
The statute is kept vague with the addition of ‘where the mother is authorized to be.’ Technically, if a business asks you to leave and you don’t, you may be breaking the law. In rare cases, this could result in criminal trespassing charges.

Business owners may ask breastfeeding women to leave. However, this typically backfires. A few years ago, a Florida restaurant asked a breastfeeding woman to cover up and eventually asked her to leave the premises. This was met with severe backlash on social media; hundreds of people left negative reviews to complain about the unfair treatment.

This negative response made it clear to business owners that asking breastfeeding mothers to leave is likely not worth the consequences.

Legal Protections

In short, breastfeeding mothers do not need to worry about indecent exposure laws. There is no requirement to use a cloth to cover up or to go to a private area. Mothers can do whatever is comfortable for themselves and their children.

To learn more about what does constitute indecent exposure, click here.

Hager & Schwartz, P.A. provides defense you can depend on. If you are facing criminal charges, give us a call today at (954) 840-8713.