Attention, parents! The U.S. is moving one step closer to potty parity.
On Oct. 7, President Obama signed into law the Bathrooms Accessible in Every Situation Act, aka the BABIES Act. This legislation requires that both men’s and women’s restrooms in publicly accessible federal buildings contain baby changing tables.
Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) first introduced the bill back in April, and it received bipartisan support in Congress.
“Government needs to do more to ensure that public buildings are family-friendly. No mom or dad should ever have to worry about finding a safe, sanitary place to change their baby ― least of all in a federal building that’s paid for by taxpayers,” Cicilline stated on his website.
“The BABIES Act is a commonsense proposal that makes government buildings more welcoming for families and helps promote good public health,” he added.
The law defines “baby changing facility” as “a table or other device suitable for changing the diaper of a child age 3 or under” and mandates that these facilities be “physically safe, sanitary, and appropriate.”
The BABIES Act comes after some much-publicized advocacy from celebrities, politicians and bloggers.
One month after Kutcher launched his campaign, New York state Sen. Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan) introduced a bill that would require public buildings and other “places of public accommodation” to include changing stations in men’s bathrooms if they exist in women’s restrooms.
Hoylman, who has a daughter with his husband David Sigal, told The Huffington Post he believes the shortage of diaper stations in men’s bathrooms is “an anachronism that reflects the bias toward women being the caregiver.” He added, “That’s simply not the case today. In addition to same sex couples of men and men in heterosexual couples, there are also a lot of single male parents out there too.”
Dad and HuffPost blogger Doyin Richards has also been an outspoken advocate for potty parity. “Dads are more involved today than ever,” he wrote on his blog back in 2014. “We love our kids and we want to have all of the tools at our disposal that moms have to be the best parents we can be. Equal access to changing tables are a big part of the discussion.”
Richards told The Huffington Post that he thinks this new legislation is “wonderful,” though he’s disheartened to hear from people who believe we should rely on the private sector to make these sorts of changes.
“The problem with that is the private sector has shown that they are more worried about the bottom line than the good of the people,” he said. “Not too long ago, it was legal to smoke cigarettes on airplanes. If we left it to the airlines to fix that problem, you better believe that people would still be smoking on airplanes today. It’s common sense to ban smoking on airplanes, and it’s common sense to allow dads to have a safe place to change their kids’ diapers.”
He added, “Sometimes you gotta legislate common sense, and this is clearly one of those times. Kudos, Mr. President for showing the world that dads matter, too.”
Dads do matter, too!