A couple weeks ago, my husband and I were out to eat celebrating my Kindergartner’s graduation at a Peri Peri restaurant in Maryland. At some point, I had to use the restroom and bumped into a dad in line with his daughter in his carrier who asked me to check if there was a changing table in the women’s bathroom because there wasn’t one in the men’s bathroom and he desperately needed to change a diaper. Unfortunately, the one in our bathroom was out of order, but he bemoaned how, as a full-time dad whose wife works, he has that problem at public accommodations whenever he goes out with his 6 month old daughter.
I recalled the incident after seeing a TODAY show feature on a friend’s Facebook page about other dads’ crusade to change the status quo when it comes to public men’s bathrooms accommodating modern fathers. It quotes blogger Greg Allen of Daddy Types blog and his effort to chronicle all the men’s rooms with changing tables in New York City, beginning when his first kid was born 10 years ago.
“Changing tables generally, and in men’s rooms specifically, are now seen as normal; they’re not just for toy stores anymore,” Allen told TODAY. “Dads will be just as likely as anyone to expect a changing table in the restroom.”
Times are indeed changing. A TODAY survey of 1,000 dads revealed that 54% change diapers compared to the 37% who said their own dads changed diapers. A recent government study found that, these days, 90% of dads who live with their children say they bathe, diaper, or dress their children every day or several times a week.
Some of the more progressive jurisdictions and states, like California, are actually making moves toward “potty parity” with legislation that would require equal access to diaper changing tables for men and women.
Two bills in California mandating equal access to changing stations passed the state Senate and are awaiting hearings in the state Assembly. San Francisco, California, The City of Pittsburgh and Miami Dade County in Florida requires some new and remodeled businesses, like movie theaters, sports arenas and large restaurants, to have baby changing stations accessible to men and women.
But beyond government piece meal, private businesses can certainly make the accommodations on their own and should be considering the changing demo or involved dads.
It’s time the public accommodations caught up with the times.