Over the last half-decade or so, Dallas has mostly slowly but surely done what it can to make itself a more egalitarian city. The City Council passed a comprehensive LGBTQ nondiscrimination ordinance, gone as far as Texas law allows with regard to marijuana decriminalization by implementing cite-and-release and required city contractors to pay their employees a living wage. One of the council's next potential targets is young parents, specifically young dads, with a proposed ordinance that would require new and renovated restaurants, retail stores, theaters and city-owned buildings to put baby changing tables in both men's and women's restrooms.
The push for changing tables, which has chief council support from Oak Cliff representative and mayoral candidate Scott Griggs, started last summer with Chris Fox, a new dad from Lakewood.
"At the time, around July or August, my son was 2 months old or 3 months old, and we would go out to restaurants. We even took a trip to Florida, and everywhere I went, there was a limited amount of diaper-changing stations, specifically for men," Fox says. "We'd go out to a place, and my wife would be like 'All right, I guess I have to go change his diaper.' ... I just started thinking that there's got to be some kind of way that we can figure out a way to get diaper-changing stations [in Dallas]."
Fox talked to his City Council member, Mark Clayton, about what the city might do to change things last year. Clayton supported the idea, Fox says, but didn't know how long it would take for momentum to build behind the issue at City Hall.
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A couple of months after meeting with Clayton, Fox got a call from Griggs' wife, Mariana Griggs. She helped Fox connect with her husband. Scott Griggs, in turn, pushed the issue to the City Council's Quality of Life Committee, to which Fox will make a presentation about the proposed regulations on Monday.
Borrowing language from a January New York City ordinance, Dallas' proposed changing table regulations would impose $500 fines on any new or newly renovated public accommodation that doesn't have either a changing table in every restroom or a sign with clear directions to the nearest changing table. The city's code compliance department would be charged with responding to reported violations.
Without a changing table, Fox says, parents often have to resort to changing their children on the restroom's counter or floor. If neither one of those spots works, they might be forced to go out to their car, he says.
"I am an equal partner in my wife and son's life," Fox says. "This is just being practical."