Mandated Changing Tables Are Not The Answer To Diaper Duty Inequality

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changing tableThings aren’t always easy for dads who choose to take a more hands-on approach to parenting. Case in point, the lack of baby-changing stations found in men’s restrooms. Two separate bills proposed by lawmakers in California are hoping to alleviate this issue, but what they’re proposing might cause more harm than good. Don’t get me wrong, I love the idea of encouraging businesses to provide more baby-changing options for male patrons (while also lessening the chance that I’m going to see a crying infant‘s ass being wiped by the buffet table). But shoving it down business owner’s throats by way of mandated changing tables is not the best way to go about winning the hearts and minds of the opposition.

As if small businesses don’t have enough costly regulations to deal with, these bills would essentially require business owners to provide equal access to baby-changing facilities, even though there are currently no state or federal laws requiring any changing facilities whatsoever. Since when did a fold-out, plastic poop-disposing platform become a human right?

Democratic state Senator Ricardo Lara, who is sponsoring the more lenient-sounding bill, thinks this “changing table crusade” is a “common sense approach,” that will fix the issue of unequal access to poop-patrol changing areas for good. According to a statement given to, Lara said:

“As the demographics of the modern American family evolve, traditional gender roles with women as the primary caregiver for the children are changing, and men are becoming more and more involved in the care of their young children. There are also a growing number of same-sex households with children. The bill also ensures that public facilities for changing babies’ diapers are equally available to both men and women.”

The other bill, sponsored by Democratic state Senator Lois Wolk, goes even farther, requiring changing areas in both women’s and men’s washrooms in all brand new movie theaters, restaurants, shopping malls and basically any other public or private building. Not only that, but changing stations would also be required during renovations to existing public and private buildings that cost over $10,000. Wolk’s bill would force building inspectors to enforce this mandate as a part of their regular inspection process.

In theory, I actually agree with the concept of these bills, but in practice I think they will do more harm than good. Seeing as business owners are under no obligation to provide changing areas to begin with, forcing those who choose to do so voluntarily to tack on an added expense will lead to less businesses providing this courtesy to begin with. I think these folks’ efforts would be better spent organizing like-minded patrons to lobby their favorite stores, restaurants etc to install changing tables in the men’s rooms, rather than forcing a one-size fits all mandate on businesses that most likely have enough expenses already.

(Photo: runzelkorn/Shutterstock)