The state of New York now recognizes that dads change diapers, too.
A 2019 law that went into effect on New Year’s Day requires all new and renovated buildings with public bathrooms to include changing tables in men’s restrooms. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced in April that the state would provide diaper changing stations in public restrooms of all genders starting this year.
“New York proudly leads the nation in fighting for the rights of working parents, and by ensuring access to these amenities, we will help ensure all New Yorkers can give their children the care they need at this critical stage of their lives,” Cuomo said at the time.
The law applies to all businesses and public facilities, including restaurants, stores, movie theaters, parks and DMV offices. Each publicly-accessible floor must have at least one changing table both genders can utilize, according to the April announcement.
The legislation is going into effect after a photo of a father squatting in a bathroom in an attempt to change his son’s diaper went viral in October. “What’s the deal with not having changing tables in men’s bathrooms as if we don’t exist!!” the father, Donte Palmer, wrote on Instagram.
“We’re more than just protectors and providers,” Palmer told BuzzFeed News. “We’re the stroller pushers [who] get up at 4 a.m. to warm bottles.”
The New York law is an addition to former President Barack Obama’s 2016 Bathrooms Accessible in Every Situation Act, or the BABIES Act, which required changing tables in restrooms of all genders in federal facilities.
New York state Sen. Brad Hoylman (D), who spearheaded the legislation in 2015, applauded its passage in April as part of the state budget.
“It’s not just moms who change diapers. Dads need to step up and do their part of the dirty work, too,” he said.
“Governor Cuomo and the legislature are taking an important step in recognizing changing parental norms, including a new generation of gay dads like me who no longer should have to change their babies on the bathroom floor because there’s no changing station in the men’s restroom,” Hoylman said.