Muhammed Nitoto, a dad to two daughters, announces himself before entering the women's restroom so as not to scare anyone.
Girl dad Muhammed Nitoto is apprehensive every time he knocks on the door of the women's bathroom but he prefers seeking out that option than taking his young daughters to the men's room. Nitoto says he's worried about the reaction every single time. “I’m a 6-foot-2 Black man,” said Nitoto. “I had no idea what the reaction would be.” Nitoto is father to Zendaya, 5, and Zuri, 3, and he knew the men's room was not really an option. The men's room was nowhere as clean as the women's room and the changing table in the men's room was in the open by the sinks and urinals. He always uses gender-neutral bathrooms or family restrooms wherever available but in their absence, he prefers to use the women's restroom, sparking debate on the issue. “Protecting my children’s privacy is my main priority,” said Nitoto, the 37-year-old dad, reported TODAY.
He says that he makes it a point to knock and announce himself to ensure the patrons don't feel uncomfortable by his presence. “I say, ‘Excuse me, I’m a dad, and I have my daughters with me. Do you mind if I bring them in?’” explained Nitoto. “If I hear the door open when we're in a stall, I re-announce myself. I don’t want to surprise anyone. I know some women have experienced trauma and might be afraid. I try to be as respectful as possible."
He says women are very understanding of his situation. He recalled one encounter where a woman asked him to wait outside until she was finished and then proceeded to stand guard outside the bathroom for him and his kids. “Being a dad with daughters, it’s just a completely different experience than being a mom with a son,” he said. "And I think moms understand that." Nitoto adds that he also makes it a point to announce himself even when he's inside and someone else is about to enter the restroom. "Whenever I hear it open and someone new is coming in I announce myself again and make sure they know I'm inside with my child so that they aren't surprised," Nitoto told Good Morning America in the hope of sparking "the conversation for active fathers in the world."
He didn't mince his words when talking about the state of the men's restrooms. "Men's bathrooms are DISGUSTING. They smell like pee and nothing is set up for a woman or a person with a child. The changing table was right next to the urinal which means my child literally would be next to where men pee [while] she's being [changed]," wrote Nitoto. "After doing that one time, I decided I'd never take my daughters to the men's bathroom again." He said women's bathrooms were infinitely cleaner everywhere in comparison. He also added that they were "set up perfect just in case they have children."
"I never thought the bathroom would become as big as an issue as it is," said Nitoto, reported ABC News. Nitoto documents his journey as a dad on his Instagram handle—ChroniclesofDaddy. "Usually we would go places and they have a FAMILY bathroom which is meant for people with children but what I found was most places don't have them and dads are left to decide between taking their daughters to the men's bathroom or the women's."
There have been mixed reactions to Nitoto's argument for using the restroom, sparking debate on the matter. "The first choice would be to find a family bathroom, which is becoming more common these days," said Dr. Alice Domar, reported Parents.com. "The second choice, up to age 4 or 5 would be for the dad to take her into the men’s room but go straight to a stall. After that, hopefully, she would be able to go to a woman’s room by herself, but if not, he can wait outside the woman’s room until a motherly-looking woman goes in and he can ask her to look out for his daughter."
He has also found a lot of support online. "Being a girl dad, I find myself having to navigate things that I don't have a book I can read from to help me with solutions," he said. "It's almost like the parenting story isn't shared in-depth from a father's side. That's why I started my Daddy Chronicles. I wanted to tell the dad's side of stories—some that have been heard from the mom's side and some that haven't even been talked about before."