Senate Bill 443 is aimed at installing the proper facilities for Arkansas fathers to care for their children. Filed by Sen. Davis and Rep. Johnson, the bill would require diaper changing stations to be installed in certain public places.
The bill sets out that if a public place is to install diaper changing accommodation, that it be equally available for use regardless of gender. These public places are inclusive of banks, restaurants, theaters, sports centers, and shopping malls.
SB443 passed the Senate during week 8 of Arkansas’ 92nd legislative session, and now will be voted on in the House.
On the state level in 2018, New York passed similar legislation to ensure equal access to diaper changing stations and to support equal parenting. Nationwide in 2016, President Obama passed legislation called the BABIES act which requires that federal buildings open to the public provide changing rooms for men as well. The bill passed with a bipartisan majority.
Both of these instances follow two failed attempts in 2014 to pass legislation ensuring equal access to changing stations in California. Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed two bills on the grounds that such decisions should be left to the private sector.
Research shows that a rising number of fathers are changing their children, as compared to previous generations. In 2014, a study found that 54 percent of fathers changed their children’s diapers as compared to only 37 percent of their own fathers.