D.C. Council member Brianne Nadeau (D-Ward 1) has said a bill she introduced last month that would require government buildings and businesses, including restaurants and bars, to make diaper changing tables available to both men and women would benefit gay men with children.
Nadeau and fellow Council members Robert White (D-At-Large) and Charles Allen (D-Ward 6) on June 25 co-introduced the Equal Access to Changing Tables Amendment Act of 2019, which has been assigned to the Council’s Committee of the Whole. Council members Kenyan McDuffie (D-Ward 5), Jack Evans (D-Ward 2), Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3), David Grosso (I-At-Large), and Elissa Silverman (I-At-Large) signed on as co-sponsors
Nadeau said the bill is aimed, in part, at addressing concerns raised by men who are in same-sex or opposite-sex relationships with young children and male single parents who find that very few men’s bathrooms in public places have diaper changing tables
In its summary statement, the bill says it would require “Diaper-Changing Accommodations be available for use by all genders in a D.C. owned or occupied building that includes at least one toilet facility that is open to the public.
The summary statement adds that the legislation would also “require Diaper-Changing Accommodations be available for use by all genders in newly constructed or substantially renovated business establishments and places of public accommodation that include at least one toilet facility that is open to the public.”
The bill defines “substantially renovated business establishments” to mean any existing business, including bars, restaurants, or nightclubs, that undertake renovations costing $10,000 or more would be required to have diaper changing stations such as changing tables in men’s as well as women’s bathrooms or in another specifically designated space open to men and women
The potential impact of the bill on gay men surfaced on Monday when the Washington Post published a story with an interview and photos of a gay male married couple and their three-year-old daughter. One of the men, Jeremy Leon, told of the difficulties he and his husband have encountered in finding men’s bathrooms in restaurants and other public places that have diaper changing tables for their child.
Gay nightlife advocate Mark Lee, who serves as coordinator of the D.C. Nightlife Council, said the bill’s requirements could pose problems for smaller, community based bars, restaurants and nightclubs that cater mostly to adults. He noted that many such establishments restrict their customers to people 21 years of age or older.
He said it doesn’t make sense for a business like that, which might include gay bars and nightclubs, to have to install a diaper changing table in their bathrooms if they undertake a renovation project of $10,000 or more.
Nadeau said she will consider these concerns when the bill comes up for a public hearing in the fall.