A Dallas dad is calling on city leaders and business owners to provide more equality for the parents they serve by adding changing tables to men’s restrooms.
Chris Fox realized how few businesses had a place where dads could change diapers after his son Hampton came along four months ago.
“[My wife] would say, ‘Hey. Can you go change his diaper?’ So I would trot to the restroom and realize there was no changing table in the restroom, so it would be up to her to change Hampton’s diaper,” said Fox.
After it happened several times, he realized that experience was the norm rather than the exception. It didn’t take long for him to decide something needed to change.
“It’s not fair for my wife to just be the one that changes his diaper all the time,” said Fox.
He believes it’s also discriminatory.
“If you walk into a restaurant and there’s a men’s restroom and a women’s restroom and the baby changing station is just in the women’s restroom, it sends a message that that’s the woman’s job,” said Fox.
That’s why he went to the city. He said he spoke to office staff in Councilman Mark Clayton’s office. While they were receptive to his ideas, he says they told him it could be an uphill battle to get any kind of official ordinance on the books that would require restaurants to include baby changing stations in men’s restrooms.
They also told him there wasn’t much data to show whether it’s a prevalent issue. But knowing it was based on his experience, Fox began researching by driving from one restaurant to another to see how many provide men with a place to change diapers.
So far, he’s been in about 15 around Lakewood, Uptown and the Design District. Of those, he’s counted only two with changing tables. One of which was Lakewood Smokehouse.
Partner Andrew Golden says they chose to install changing tables for men when the restaurant was first built.
“You know we’re a neighborhood family restaurant, and for us it was a pretty easy decision. You know, kids have dirty diapers and dads have to change diapers too. It’s just that simple,” said Golden.
But he says he’s had other business owners tell him several reasons for choosing not to, including liability.
They say many insurance policies won’t cover injuries related to changing tables.
Fox has also heard concerns including cost and adjustments it would require to maintain ADA compliance.
But for Golden, the benefits outweigh the concerns. Fox hopes he can convince others to see the same.
“It goes beyond having a kid. It’s more about the community and the city sending a message that each person should have equal access to something,” said Fox.
Right now, there’s a law in place requiring changing tables in both men’s and women’s restrooms in federal buildings. California, New York City and Miami have all taken action on the issue.