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Obama quietly signed a bill for new parents everywhere when we weren't looking.

This bill is helping to change antiquated gender norms within families.

Obama quietly signed a bill for new parents everywhere when we weren't looking.

If you’ve ever had to change a child’s diaper in a public bathroom, you know it can be a nightmare if the right equipment isn’t there.

But the Bathrooms Accessible in Every Situation (BABIES) Act is a step toward changing that.  

The BABIES Act, quietly signed by President Barack Obama in October 2016, will expand the number of baby changing stations in all publicly accessible federal buildings. This means that buildings like post offices, Social Security offices, and courthouses will have at least one baby changing station on each floor, and they will be in both men and women’s bathrooms.


The bill received mostly bipartisan support, too, a welcome form of relief during such a partisan time.

Photo by Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images.

The act is "important to ensure that [bathrooms] are as open, as accessible, and as family-friendly as possible," David N. Cicilline, the Democratic congressman who sponsored the bill wrote in his press release.      

Aside from added convenience, this new bill is also a step toward breaking down a notorious form of sexism.  

Historically speaking, changing tables have more commonly been in women’s bathrooms, further perpetuating the stereotype that women should be responsible for child care outside of the household.

But by putting changing tables in men's bathrooms, too, we can break down the idea that women should always be the primary caretakers for children.  

In 2015, actor Ashton Kutcher launched this discussion publicly by asking stores to make changing stations available for men and women.

His Change.org petition called out the lack of changing tables in mens bathrooms as "gender stereotyping."        

"This assumption" he said, "is gender stereotyping and companies should be supporting all parents that shop at their stores equally — no matter their gender."

Kutcher's simple act led Democratic Sen. Brad Hoylman to launch a bill in 2015 that would make changing tables required in all public restrooms in New York — such as restaurants and theaters — regardless of gender.

While the particular bill is still in committee for the city of New York, Obama's BABIES Act will help change bathrooms in federal buildings all over the U.S. This is good news because it's clear that politicians are realizing that not making family needs accessible to all is a form of gender discrimination.        

The act is also a way of breaking down hypermasculinity, too.  

Hypermasculinty, a term that expresses the exaggeration of stereotypical male behavior such as physical strength, stoicism, and aggression, is often used to put men in a box, ultimately negatively affecting them and those around them.  

Photo via iStock.

When we push the antiquated ideas that women work with the children and men serve as babysitters, we add unnecessary pressure to moms, but we also further perpetuate the idea that being a caring and attentive father somehow makes someone less of a man — an idea that couldn't be further from the truth.          

And this isn't just important for heterosexual couples, either.

Gender norms also plague same-sex relationships. Male same-sex couples, often under pressure to follow archaic masculine or feminine roles, will now have safer and more accessible options for taking care of their little ones in public.    

The bill, which was originally introduced in April, is also a pleasant reminder that our government can in fact work for us when we put partisanship aside and work to improve the lives of citizens around us.    

"This is how government should work to make commonsense reforms that make life easier for the people we serve," Cicilline said.

Images courtesy of Mark Storhaug & Kaiya Bates

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The experiences we have at school tend to stay with us throughout our lives. It's an impactful time where small acts of kindness, encouragement, and inspiration go a long way.

Schools, classrooms, and teachers that are welcoming and inclusive support students' development and help set them up for a positive and engaging path in life.

Here are three of our favorite everyday actions that are spreading kindness on campus in a big way:

Image courtesy of Mark Storhaug

1. Pickleball to Get Fifth Graders Moving

Mark Storhaug is a 5th grade teacher at Kingsley Elementary in Los Angeles, who wants to use pickleball to get his students "moving on the playground again after 15 months of being Zombies learning at home."

Pickleball is a paddle ball sport that mixes elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis, where two or four players use solid paddles to hit a perforated plastic ball over a net. It's as simple as that.

Kingsley Elementary is in a low-income neighborhood where outdoor spaces where kids can move around are minimal. Mark's goal is to get two or three pickleball courts set up in the schoolyard and have kids join in on what's quickly becoming a national craze. Mark hopes that pickleball will promote movement and teamwork for all his students. He aims to take advantage of the 20-minute physical education time allotted each day to introduce the game to his students.

Help Mark get his students outside, exercising, learning to cooperate, and having fun by donating to his GoFundMe.

Image courtesy of Kaiya Bates

2. Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids

According to the WHO around 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression. In the US, 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness and 1 in 20 experience severe mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Kaiya Bates, who was recently crowned Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen for 2022, is one of those people, and has endured severe anxiety, depression, and selective mutism for most of her life.

Through her GoFundMe, Kaiya aims to use her "knowledge to inspire and help others through their mental health journey and to spread positive and factual awareness."

She's put together regulation kits (that she's used herself) for teachers to use with students who are experiencing stress and anxiety. Each "CALM-ing" kit includes a two-minute timer, fidget toolboxes, storage crates, breathing spheres, art supplies and more.

Kaiya's GoFundMe goal is to send a kit to every teacher in every school in the Pasco School District in Washington where she lives.

To help Kaiya achieve her goal, visit Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids.

Image courtesy of Julie Tarman

3. Library for a high school heritage Spanish class

Julie Tarman is a high school Spanish teacher in Sacramento, California, who hopes to raise enough money to create a Spanish language class library.

The school is in a low-income area, and although her students come from Spanish-speaking homes, they need help building their fluency, confidence, and vocabulary through reading Spanish language books that will actually interest them.

Julie believes that creating a library that affirms her students' cultural heritage will allow them to discover the joy of reading, learn new things about the world, and be supported in their academic futures.

To support Julie's GoFundMe, visit Library for a high school heritage Spanish class.

Do YOU have an idea for a fundraiser that could make a difference? Upworthy and GoFundMe are celebrating ideas that make the world a better, kinder place. Visit upworthy.com/kindness to join the largest collaboration for human kindness in history and start your own GoFundMe.

This article originally appeared on 11.21.16


Photographer Katie Joy Crawford had been battling anxiety for 10 years when she decided to face it straight on by turning the camera lens on herself.

In 2015, Upworthy shared Crawford's self-portraits and our readers responded with tons of empathy. One person said, "What a wonderful way to express what words cannot." Another reader added, "I think she hit the nail right on the head. It's like a constant battle with yourself. I often feel my emotions battling each other."

So we wanted to go back and talk to the photographer directly about this soul-baring project.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."