by Sheri Vettel on November 3, 2016
Before my baby-toting days, I was completely unaware of two things about public restrooms:
First, there are several that still do not have changing tables in them. Period.
Second, there are even fewer men’s restrooms equipped with changing tables.
After my son was born, I quickly realized this often meant I was on diaper duty while out and about with my tiny family.
Luckily, my husband is creative — and calm — so he was able to manage swift diaper changes in some interesting places without breaking a sweat. The fact that a men’s restroom lacked a changing table didn’t bother him much. After all, a changing table is not a necessity to get the job done, and I have certainly changed my fair share of diapers on a wiggling baby in the back seat of my car.
What did bother me, however, was the fact that, this missing piece of equipment, seems to suggest that only women are responsible for the diaper bag.
The omission also forgets about all of the single males raising babies out there, as well as same sex male couples.
Anyone remember that little petition started by the actor Ashton Kutcher? To date, over 100,000 folks have signed in support of “Universally Accessible Changing Tables.” This seemingly small issue is important and it finally seems something will be done about it.
On October 7th, 2016, President Obama signed a bill titled “Bathrooms Accessible in Every Situation,”or the BABIES Act.
This new law mandates that changing stations be available in both men and women’s bathrooms in federal buildings open to the public within the next two years. Not only must they be available, but they must be “safe, sanitary, and appropriate.” Counter space simply won’t do.
While this is a significant step in the right direction, it appears the legislation applies only to federal buildings at this time.
Until we achieve “potty parity,” as some are calling it, we can be advocates in our own communities. I certainly wish that I had spoken up on the occasions where we could not find an appropriate changing table at a store or a restaurant when my son was still in diapers.
If you are interested, you can submit locations that have family restrooms, nursing-friendly rooms, and changing tables to this site, The Changing Table Locator. All submissions will aid the development of a locator map and app for changing tables in the future.