WILSONVILLE, Ore. -- A local dad said he sees a constant problem: a lack of diaper changing stations in men's restrooms, making it harder for fathers to take care of their children.
Cody Allegro is a single father of four kids. The youngest is still in diapers. He said he often finds men's restrooms without changing stations at fast food places, gas stations and grocery stores.
"Super-inconvenient," said Allegro. "I would just like to see fairness and equality in that."
Allegro said he often asks to use the women's restroom if there is no changing station in the men's room. But he said some businesses refuse to let him use the women's diaper changing station.
He described one such visit at a gas station.
"The men's bathroom was gross," recounted Allegro. "So, I came back out and asked to use the women's and she said, 'No.' She said, 'Just put him down on the floor and change him.' And I said, 'I would never do that. Would you lay down on that floor?'"
Allegro said he often ends up changing his son in his car, or at the men's room sink, which appears to offend other men's room users.
"People don't like that you're trying to change your son up where they're trying to wash their hands," said Allegro.
Allegro is not the only father with concerns. A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control said more fathers are involved now with the raising of their children, including changing diapers, than in the past. One of the study's co-authors said in a report that more-involved fathers are better for children.
One father in New York has created a section on his blog where he provides locations of men's rooms with diaper-changing stations. The cities of Miami and San Francisco have mandated diaper-changing stations in men's rooms.
The group that runs more than two dozen rest stops in Oregon said they are putting in diaper changing stations in family restrooms and/or men's and women's rooms as they go through and revamp each rest stop.
"You know, being a dad and changing a few diapers in my time, it's definitely something important to consider," said Geoff Helzer, general manager of the Burgerville on Hawthorne in Southeast Portland.
Helzer's Burgerville has changing stations in both the women's and men's rooms. However, he said, 16 out of the 39 Burgervilles do not have changing stations in the men's rooms. Helzer said some Burgervilles simply do not have room for changing stations, if they have small restrooms, and management had to remove the changing stations in some other Burgerville men's rooms because of persistent vandalism.
"There are some challenges from that perspective," said Helzer.
Helzer said dads can and should ask for help if they do not see a changing station in their Burgerville restroom.
"We'll always have a crew person that can stand by and stand watch if a dad wants to be able to use the ladies' room and change a diaper," said Helzer.
Allegro said he plans his family trips around the businesses that he knows will accommodate his children's needs. And though his son will soon be out of diapers, he hopes bringing attention to the issue will bring change for future fathers and mothers.
"It would be nice to see that happen," said Allegro. "It would be really great."