Austin hoping to make diaper duty easier for dads, uncles and grandpas

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — Dads, uncles and grandpas in Austin could soon see more diaper changing stations in public restrooms.

Austin City Council Member Paige Ellis is leading an effort to pass a resolution that will require certain buildings in Austin to provide changing tables that men can access, as well.

“In our community, we’re very inclusive, and it’s not just a mother’s role to make sure that her child has a place to have a diaper change” Ellis said. “A caretaker is no longer just assumed to be the mother. It’s now fathers, aunts, uncles, grandparents.”

Ellis told KXAN Austin buildings aren’t required to have changing stations. “It’s completely voluntary,” she said.

The proposed resolution directs the city manager to work toward a “goal of ensuring universal, gender-neutral access to at least one safe, sanitary, and convenient diaper changing station on each of a building’s floor levels containing a public restroom.”

The resolution asks the city manager to develop a timeline and funding plan to add changing stations to all public buildings, and for all other buildings, the proposal says new buildings and buildings undergoing major renovations should add changing stations.

“I know that businesses are always looking at ways to make sure that they’re as cost effective as possible, so I can see the cost being something that people do ask about, but this is a very minimal cost,” said Ellis.

“More times than not, we unfortunately expect there to not be a changing tables in the men’s restrooms,” said Christine Dawe.

Dawe has two sons, a one and three-year-old, and writes about her parenting experience on her blog, the Fussy Mama.

She says too many times, she’s changed her boys’ diapers in “back of cars, on the floors of restrooms, on picnic tables, in the grass.” And even if they find a restroom that has a changing table, she says it’s always in the women’s restrooms.

“Normally, I have to stop whatever I’m doing and go change the boys,” Dawe said. “We share all of our parenting responsibilities equally, but this is something that when we go out, and we go out a lot, I’m pretty much responsible for doing.”

Dawe says making more changing tables accessible to both men and women will help Austin become even more family-friendly.

“We really try to go out to restaurants, to go out to concerts, to go to all kinds of great events, and we want our kids to experience them, too,” she said. “I think having more places to change a diaper and take care of our kids would really make that possible for more families.”

Due to the amount of items on the agenda for the upcoming meeting, the Austin City Council called a special meeting Wednesday. This resolution is expected to be voted on at that meeting.

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