By Sabina Mollot
A “potty parity” bill, pushing for new and renovated buildings to offer changing tables in bathrooms accessible to men as well as women, was passed in the City Council on December 11.
The mayor held a hearing on the bill on Monday and is expected to sign it soon, according to one of the legislation’s co-sponsors, Dan Garodnick. The other sponsor is Brooklyn Council Member Rafael Espinal, who said he got to work on the bill after witnessing a man change his daughter’s diaper on the sink of a public bathroom.
“Moms and dads should have equal access to sanitary and safe spaces when changing their baby’s diapers,” he said.
Meanwhile, Garodnick, who has two young sons, can certainly relate.
“As a dad who has changed my fair share of diapers I can say from personal experience that there are very few restrooms with diaper changing stations and it shouldn’t be that way,” he said.
Once signed by the mayor, the legislation would take effect in 180 days. After that, building owners could be subject to penalties up to $500 for violating the building code.
The potty parity movement isn’t limited to New York City. Actor Ashton Kutcher has been very vocal on the issue and in 2016, President Barack Obama signed the Bathrooms Accessible in Every Situation Act into law. The legislation required that restrooms in publicly accessible federal buildings have diaper changing stations.
State Senator Brad Hoylman, a father of two young daughters, has also been fighting this fight in Albany. In 2015, he authored a similar bill to Garodnick’s, but as of this week, he said it has still not come up for a vote.
“I’d like to see a vote on it in January because I think it is extremely important as Council member Garodnick has shown,” Hoylman said.
He added that though this issue is relevant to all fathers, it’s particularly so to gay ones like himself, who don’t have the option of one parent going into a women’s bathroom.
“As someone with a three-and-a-half-month-old baby I’m going to be reliving the experience of changing a baby on a sink or a dirty bathroom floor,” said Hoylman.