As I was driving home from dropping Hailey off at school today, I heard a news piece on the radio about Florida state senator Lauren Book who had just introduced a bill to “Require the Florida Building Commission to incorporate into the Florida Building Code specified requirements and a certain exemption related to baby-changing tables, etc.”
After doing some research I found out this is how the effort started: For Book, a mother of twins, the issue is personal. She shared an anecdote with the committee, explaining that it led her to file the bill. “I was out to dinner with our six-month-old twins,” Book recalled before the committee. “They needed a change.” But when Book entered the restroom with a diaper bag — “ready to do battle” — she discovered the facility was missing a baby changing table. Book said she has since noticed the lack of a little one’s latrine is commonplace. “Unless we’re visiting a large establishment — like a mall or a stadium or a movie theatre — it’s very hard to find changing tables,” Book said. (Danny McAuliffe - “Florida Politics”)
What’s even harder to find is changing tables and rooms for kids and people who are disabled. It makes life difficult to go out in public as a family. We have had to change Livy on the floor in bathrooms and it is both physically challenging, dangerous for Livy, and gross. There was one instance where I went into a handicap stall in a public restroom and the toilet was clogged. I was literally nauseous at the thought of having to lay Livy on the floor next to that appalling mess so I chose to let her remain in her wet diaper, leave Allison and Hailey at the fundraiser we were attending, and take Livy home to get her cleaned up.
Other parts of the world are far ahead of the United States in this area. Living in the world of disabilities is hard enough. Ever wonder why you don’t see more disabled kids and adults in wheelchairs at restaurants or in stores? This is one reason. When families try to go out for a night together, it is a chore to satisfy even one of the most basic needs with a semblance of dignity.
Senator Book is the mother of twins so our families already have something in common. She also started Lauren's Kids in Florida which is an organization that educates adults and children about sexual abuse prevention through in-school curricula, awareness campaigns and speaking engagements around the country and the world. She wants to change the world and believes, as my family does, that we all have the power to do so. If you happen to read this, Senator, I would love to have a conversation.