Should More Changing Tables be Installed in Men's Restrooms?

August 8, 2019

It’s 2019, and there are just about as many men taking care of children as there are women, so why should changing tables only be provided in the women’s restrooms? Think about how frustrating it is. Your child needs a diaper change and you go to the bathroom only to find out that there are no changing tables in your bathroom because of your sex. I don't know about you, but I would feel frustrated and neglected. Taking care of a child is enough of a stresser, parents don’t need any more hoops to jump through, especially when it comes to changing a diaper. I mean that is serious business.

 

Photo: Tim Mossholder on Unsplash  

 

Imagine a father going to the bathroom to change his child’s diaper and seeing that there is no changing table. What does he do now? If there are no benches or furniture in the bathroom the only option is the floor. Putting a precious child on the men's bathroom floor, surely the nastiest of all floors, is both unsanitary and outrageous. What happens next? The father either changes his child wherever he can or gets the mother to change him. Why should the mothers be blessed with the duty, no pun intended, of changing diapers? Parenthood should be a partnership, after all.

 

It is borderline offensive to both sexes that changing tables are exclusively for women’s bathrooms. It is not the woman's responsibility alone to change a child’s diaper. And there are single dads out there that I am sure would appreciate the recognition of having a changing table in their own bathroom. Men have to take care of children just like women do. It is not a job for one gender or the other, it is a job that does not discriminate, so neither should we by only providing the necessary equipment in women’s bathrooms.

 

There are fathers out there fighting and leading the change. For example, actor Ashton Kutcher has been fighting for a number of years to get changing tables in men’s bathrooms. Another prominent public leader that has been fighting this battle is former president Barack Obama. Obama supported this cause by passing the Babies Act in 2016, which requires both men’s  and women’s restrooms in publicly accessible federal buildings to have baby changing tables. The fact that this necessary resource to change a child typically only exists in women’s bathrooms is atrocious. Imagine if you were a gay man trying to change your child’s diaper? Or a single dad? Change is coming, and it should be, because this has been a need for many dads throughout the country for years.

 

As of January 2019, New York requires changing tables in public men’s restrooms. This is a fantastic step in the right direction. This is going to be a big help for fathers all throughout the state. This applies to restaurants, movie theatres and stores as well as state facilities. According to the law, at least one changing table must be present in both men’s and women’s bathrooms on each floor of a building that is accessed by the public. This ensures a safe and sanitary place to change your child’s diaper.

State senator Brad Hoylman, who wrote this legislation, said, "It's not just moms who change diapers. Dads need to step up and do their part of the dirty work, too." All other states should follow in their footsteps and take action to put an end to the inequality.

 

Here is the bottom line. If you don’t remember anything else in this article remember this: Men need changing tables in their restrooms to take care of children. Believe it or not, despite the gender biases, men do share the obligations of taking care of a child. We should no longer be restrained by these archaic stereotypes. I invite you to take action and raise awareness to this issue. It is time to incite change, because change is desperately needed.

 

Jamie has been writing ever since... well ever since she could physically write. She loved the control of it. The power to create anything and everything and the power to take it all away. She loved how it made her feel. She still does. She has a slightly unhealthy infatuation with Frida Kahlo (But she is not a bandwagon). She doesn't have her hair the same color for very long, only partially due to the fact that she fears commitment. She lives by the words of Ernest Hemingway: "Destroyed but not Defeated" from one of her favorite books, The Old Man and the Sea. She is passionate about dissolving the stigma surrounding mental health issues and hopes to be an advocate for those suffering from a mental illness.

 

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