In 2018, a New Hampshire father, needing to change his infant’s diaper at a restaurant, did not find a changing table in the men’s bathroom. He was forced to change his daughter’s diaper with her laying on the bathroom floor. The father vented his frustration at the experience on Facebook that quickly went viral.
That same month, on the other side of the continent in Los Angeles County, the Long Beach City Council voted to require all public men’s restrooms be equipped with changing stations. As progressive as that was, though, Long Beach sought to go further. The city formally acknowledges that, as caregivers, nurturers and role models, the father’s role is important in the lives of their children. So Long Beach implemented its Father Friendly Initiative that, in additional to supporting fathers needing to execute a diaper change in a public restroom, seeks to encourage businesses, agencies and organizations to implement policies and practices that are friendly to fathers and makes places and spaces better for the whole family.
Boston is the only other U.S. city where we could find a formal “Father-Friendly Initiative.” Boston’s initiative, however, is designed as a case management service to support integrating fathers into their families, specifically those fathers with child support, custody and visitation, or other court issues. The initiative in Long Beach, on the other hand, is designed to celebrate and empower fatherhood by promoting a supportive community.
The Long Beach initiative follows three guidelines:
1. Encourage Fatherhood by Portraying Positive Images of Diverse Fathers
Distribute materials, illustrations, posters, brochures and other collateral include positive, diverse images of fathers. Consider fathers and fatherhood when choosing positive images, photographs or other materials for public display.
2. Train Staff on Fatherhood Issues and Father Friendly Practices
Strive to provide training for all city staff on working with men and on fatherhood issues. Provide staff with training on father friendly practices and principles.
3. Ensure Men’s Restrooms and Family/Gender-Neutral Restrooms Contain a Changing Station For Fathers
Strive to ensure all restrooms are equipped with changing stations in order to support fathers as caregivers in public spaces.