Saturday, July 20, 2024

Diaper changing stations for dads proposed


OLYMPIA - Diaper changing stations traditionally were placed only in women's bathrooms, and Alexandra Johnson, a mother of two from Snoqualmie, thinks that should change.

“What are the implications for our children when they see that mom is the only one providing care?” Johnson asked.

Johnson made her comments in testimony as the state Legislature considers HB 2052, which would require changing stations in all new or renovated public bathrooms, regardless of gender.

“This legislation does two things: It creates more access to safe and sanitary changing stations and then it also creates that access to everyone and anyone who needs to change a diaper,” said Lisa Callan, D-Issaquah, the bill’s sponsor. 

“The passage of this bill would mean a more equal partnership of childcare responsibilities across genders in public,” Johnson said. 

Johnson explained that during family outings, she often took charge of diaper changing. Not because her husband was not willing, but because other options did not exist. 

“The passage of this bill would also allow single dads, two dad households, uncles, grandparents, grandfathers, other caregivers other than women to perform diaper changes in public,” she said. 

As a nurse, Johnson said she believes improved access to diaper changing stations allow for better care and decrease occurrences of diaper rashes and infections caused by untimely changing.

Callan said she is committed to working with small businesses to make sure the requirement is not a burden.

If approved, the State Building Code Council will adopt the new rules by July 1, 2025. One “safe, sanitary, and convenient,” baby diaper changing station will be required in both female and male restrooms or gender-neutral bathrooms. 

The bill also requires necessary signage in buildings indicating where to find changing stations.

This legislation expands on the Bathrooms Accessible in Every Situation (or BABIES) Act which mandates that all publicly accessible federal buildings must have at least one baby changing table in a restroom on each floor, with clear signage in restrooms without changing tables directing to the nearest one on the same floor, with limited exceptions.

The Washington State Journal is a non-profit news website funded by the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association Foundation.


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