Parents in New York will have an easier time changing their kids’ diapers when out of the house.
The city just passed legislation that makes it mandatory for there to be diaper changing tables in men’s and women’s bathrooms.
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The move came Monday, after it was brought forward by council member Rafael Espinal. While Espinal is not a father himself, he told HuffPost that he noticed other men changing diapers over sinks in public bathrooms. He began looking into it, and found that change tables are much more commonly found in women’s bathrooms.
The problem is not entirely new — actor Ashton Kutcher spoke out about the issue in 2015, explaining that he often can’t find a place to change his daughter Wyatt. He later started a Change.org petition calling on the tables to be more accessible.
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“It’s 2015, families are diverse, and it is an injustice to assume it’s only a woman’s job to handle changing diapers,” the petition read.
“This assumption is gender stereotyping and companies should be supporting all parents that shop at their stores equally – no matter their gender.”
Former U.S. president Barack Obama also signed the Bathrooms Accessible in Every Situation Act (BABIES Act) in October 2016, mandating that every bathroom in public federal buildings have diaper changing tables.
The absence of diaper changing tables isn’t unique to fathers in the United States. It’s something that’s been flagged north of the border as well.
Brian Aasen, a father from Calgary, spoke out in January after he couldn’t find a place to change his two-year-old daughter at a local Dairy Queen. There was no change table in the men’s washroom, and he didn’t like the option he was given when he asked the staff for help.
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“The choice was either… (the) men’s bathroom floor or -30 C outside in the car,” Aasen said at the time.
“I’m going to a family establishment with my daughter on a daddy-daughter time, so why can’t I have a place to change my kid’s diaper that’s safe and clean. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.”
— With files from Global News reporter Tony Tighe