Viral Photo of a Dad Doing a Diaper Change in a Public Restroom Is a Powerful Call to Action
A dad of three and high school teacher from Jacksonville, Florida is making national headlines for his all too real and important message: Men's bathrooms need changing tables, too! Donte Palmer took to Instagram on September 23 to share a photo of himself changing his son's diaper in a public restroom. In the shot, you can see he's simply crouched in a stall with his son splayed out over his legs. The two have to do this yoga-like move, because there is, of course, no changing table in the men's bathroom.
“This is a serious post!!! What’s the deal with not having changing tables in men’s bathroom as if we don’t exist!!" Palmer wrote alongside the photo. “Clearly, we do this often because look how comfortable my son is. It’s routine to him!!!! Let’s fix this problem!” Palmer went on to ask activist and football quarterback Colin Kaepernick to “drop a knee to this issue!” and he tagged entertainment news site The Shade Room.
Palmer explained to Yahoo Lifestyle that the image, taken on September 15, shows just a routine moment for him as a father of three boys, aged 12, 7, and 1. “We had stopped at Texas Roadhouse for lunch and while my wife ordered food, my son Liam started fussing so I knew it was time for a diaper change,” Palmer shared. He and his eldest Isaiah, who he calls his "diaper assistant," headed into the men's bathroom to change Liam. Fun fact: Isaiah is the one who snapped the photo of his dad and brother.
“I usually lay Liam down on clothes I keep in the diaper bag or the bag itself, and Isaiah hands me wipes or throws out the dirty diaper," Palmer explained. "People have commented that my wife is ‘lazy’ for not changing our baby’s diaper or that I could have changed him in the car, but why should I?"
If those reactions seem antiquated and eyebrow-raising, take heart: Plenty of people are onboard with Palmer's message. "Kudos to you for your dedication and creativity, but you should be able to save all that for another cause," one Instagram commenter wrote. "I make a point to inform restaurant management that their lack of a changing station for guys is the reason I’ll be going somewhere else next time. Time to fast forward from 1950..."
And Palmer's post also echoes one shared in January by a dad named Chris Mau.
Obviously, Palmer and Mau aren't alone. Even Ashton Kutcher has spoken out on this issue. The fact that so many fathers are struggling to take care of their L.O.s in public is a glaring, widespread problem.
"For a long time, fathers have been looked at as being absent in our children's lives," Palmer tells Parents.com. "Taking care of children has been a job deemed necessary for women. At times, society complains about the presence of fathers not being involved, but in all actuality, there are a ton of fathers willing to step up to the plate."
He's heartened to see that in the wake of sharing his experience, fellow "fathers have been so supportive of this movement and are willing to help promote this issue at hand to bring awareness." He also hopes that by emphasizing the "importance of being a great father," his students will "see what it takes to be that superhero for their children" one day.
Since going viral, Palmer's post has fueled this important conversation around changing tables in men's restrooms—a social change that's clearly overdue. He has since started Squat For Change, a campaign that "will drive initiatives that result in the installation of appropriate diaper changing stations in all designated men's public restrooms." Their laudable endgame: "Creating a world of equity where changing your baby is a man thing too, just like moms."