Parents who had to change babies on slippery sinks or unsanitary floors in New York City can now breathe a huge sigh of relief. As of Monday, New York is the first major city to pass a bill requiring all public restrooms to have diaper-changing tables—which means someone finally figured out that diaper duty isn't a mom-only responsibility.
Despite not being a parent, Councilman Rafael Espinal knew something had to be done when he first noticed a dad changing his baby's diaper over a bathroom sink at the mall. With a little more digging, he realized that not only did men's restrooms lack changing tables, some women's restrooms did as well. So more than two years ago he went to work on passing a bill that would prioritize the health and safety of babies.
The bill would require all new developments, such as movie theaters, coffee shops and even nightclubs, with public restrooms to install changing tables in all bathrooms. Older buildings will have to install them if they get renovated. Changing tables would cost about $155 to $185 to install.
The bill was met with "little resistance and a lot of support (because) in reality, it is a real issue that parents are dealing with," the 33-year-old councilman told Metro. Plus, "it will take the responsibility off of women and place equal balance on men."
Ashton Kutcher voiced a similar call back in 2015 when he got more than 100,000 signatures on a Change.org petition to urge businesses to install changing tables in men's restrooms, too. Because what's a single dad, grandfather or male babysitter to do when they're stuck with a diaper blowout at a restaurant? (Be called a 'sicko' for changing baby in a family restroom, like this dad was?)
"Families are diverse, and it is an injustice to assume it’s only a woman's job to handle changing diapers. This assumption is gender stereotyping, and companies should be supporting all parents that shop at their stores equally—no matter their gender," Kutcher write in the petition.
In 2016, Obama signed a new law mandating men's restrooms in federal buildings open to the public also contain changing tables. But other attempts across the country haven't gone as far as the New York bill. In 2014, California Governor Jerry Brown vetoed two bills that would have required businesses in frequently visited public areas to provide diaper-changing stations in men's restrooms if one is provided in women's restrooms, or build changing stations in a restroom available to men and women.
"This may be a good business practice, but not one that I am inclined to legislate," Brown wrote.
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