It's about time.
Dads are parents. That means they change diapers, and because society hasn't quite caught up with modern parenting, that means a lot of men are forced to put their babies on the floors, sinks or countertops in public bathrooms because the men's room doesn't have a changing station.
But in New York state, dads will no longer have to put their baby on a questionable lavatory floor, or squat with the baby over their knees, or try to find a dry patch of counter space between the sinks.
As of now, the building code in New York requires all new builds or renovated buildings with public bathrooms to install "safe and compliant changing tables" that are "available to both men and women," according to the office of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Basically, if you're installing public bathrooms In your building, you're putting in at least one changing table that dads can use (and find).
"There must be at least one changing table accessible to both genders per publicly-accessible floor. Building owners or managers must post clear signs directing the public to the location of the nearest available changing table," Cuomo's office notes.
In a lot of cases, this is going to translate to builders putting tables in both the men's and women's bathrooms, and noting that on the door. It's a trend that's already popping up in several states as business owners try to get ahead of building codes (and just provide good service to their customers.
Having a changing table in the men's room may seem like a small thing, but when you're a dad who is trying to decide whether to put your changing pad on the filthy men's room floor or maybe wrangle your baby into a diaper on a sliver of counter space next to the sink (where, oh, by the way your baby will be super distracted once they figure out they can turn on the automatic faucet) this is huge.
Today's dads do more parenting than any generation of fathers, but too often they find themselves navigating public spaces that don't see them as parents.
Florida father of three Donte Palmer went viral in September 2018 thanks to an Instagram post showing the lengths he has to go to change his youngest son's diapers (his older son snapped this photo in a restaurant men's room). His squat-and-change move inspired him to start a campaign and hashtag called #squatforchange, under which fellow dads post pics of the awkward public diapering moves the use to keep their babies off bathroom floors.
Seriously, dads like Palmer are doing parenting right, and society needs to treat these men and their babies with some dignity (and not force them to change soiled diapers on the same surface where people are washing their hands).
Society also needs to treat mothers right on this issue—because when the only changing stations are in the women's bathroom, that puts the burden on us, all the time.
One of those plastic pull-down changing stations can be purchased online for a couple hundred dollars. They are a lavatory necessity, like sinks and urinals and toilet paper holders, and they are not expensive. Businesses really have no excuse not to install them for dads. And thanks to legislators in New York state, they no longer get to choose not to. Here's hoping more states and countries follow New York's lead.
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