Saturday, April 21, 2012

Local history: In Syracuse, it was one small change for infants, one large step toward equality

When I clicked on this story, I assumed it would be about today's Great Cloth Diaper Change, an  attempt to break the world record for simultaneous cloth diaper changes.  However, it addressed access to changing table; the first suit addressing the lack of facilities for fathers (and the assumption that only moms did this particular familial duty) was in 1985, about our very own Syracuse Hancock Airport.  Read on.
Published in the Post-Standard, April 21, 2012
 By Karen DeCrow, Contributing writer
Syracuse was ahead of the game!
In Miami, Fla., 165 diaper changing stations are being built in men’s rooms and common areas of city properties. A story by Charles Rabin in The Miami Herald reported city commissioners voted in February to spend $45,000 to install baby diaper-changing stations in men’s rooms across the city, “after an hour of heated argument between the measure’s sponsor and the disgruntled police union president.”
The model: a Syracuse lawsuit filed in federal court, establishing that changing diapers is no longer women’s work (Northern District of New York).
My client, the Fathers’ Rights Association of New York State, brought the Syracuse Department of Aviation to U.S. District Court in July 1985. In September 1986, thanks to a decision by the late Judge Howard Munson, there was a celebration of the opening of a gender-free fathers’ and mothers’  nursery, with a ribbon cutting and the changing of two infants by their fathers; one the son of the assistant corporation counsel, the other the son of the president of the fathers’ rights group.
Our lawsuit addressed: sex discrimination against men who were denied equal facilities; sex discrimination against women, who were assumed to have the total responsibility for children while traveling; and the rights of children to be cared for by both parents.


Karen DeCrow, an attorney and author from Jamesville, NY, is in the National Women's Hall of Fame and writes an occasional column in The Post-Standard.

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