Editor-in-Chief Corinne Zudonyi

When managers receive restroom complaints, often it’s the paper or soap dispenser is out of stock, the toilets are clogged or there is trash everywhere. But lately, occupants have had bigger hot button issues: the availability of gender-neutral spaces, baby changing stations in men’s rooms and adult-size changing accommodations.

The gender-neutral issue is one that has been driven mostly by the younger population. Although many facilities still struggle to find a solution, some have been accommodating by transitioning existing storage spaces into single-use restrooms.

This progress has quieted complaints slightly, leaving an opening for those pushing for changing stations.

In 2016, the Bathrooms Accessible in Every Situation (BABIES) Act became a law, requiring that all federal facilities provide changing stations that are “physically safe, sanitary and appropriate” in both men’s and women’s public restrooms. Despite this law, many dads still struggle with finding appropriate accommodations in public venues — reportedly leaving them to improvise or change diapers on restroom floors.

Those same desperate measures are a common occurrence for individuals in search of adult-size changing tables in public venues. People caring for grown kids or teenagers with autism, or a disabled or paralyzed elder, rarely find either the appropriate tables or physical space necessary to accommodate their needs in public spaces. (More information available here.)

Although already problematic, these are issues that will continue to gain momentum as the population grows and changes, forcing facilities to adapt.

Newer facilities or those undergoing remodeling can quickly implement change in the form of single-use, family restrooms that address all three of these hot button issues. But in many existing buildings, structural restrictions will make change difficult. Managers are encouraged to examine the existing offerings to find alternative spaces that will accommodate these restroom needs.