Evanston City Council is debating a proposal to allow anyone to be topless in public spaces, regardless of gender

EVANSTON, Ill. (CBS) — At any Lake Michigan beach, you’re sure to see lawn chairs, beach towels, coolers — and of course, people in bathing suits.

But in Evanston, the city council is debating a proposal that would reduce the amount of swimsuits required in some cases. It would remove a public nudity ordinance from the books to allow women to go topless on beaches there – as men are already allowed to do.

As CBS 2’s Marissa Perlman reported on Wednesday, the proposal was tabled earlier this summer — but a city committee will debate the matter next week. Evanston Ald. Devon Reid (8th) said it was all about fairness.

He said the change to the suburban nudity ordinance would allow anyone to go topless, regardless of gender, on all city beaches. This would also apply to other public spaces such as city streets and parks.

The public nudity ordinance in Evanston has been in effect since the 1950s and does not permit “exposure of female breasts”.

Reid said the city code violates the Illinois Constitution, which prohibits discrimination based on sex. A violation of the order carries a $750 fine and the possibility of a criminal misdemeanor charge.

Reid points out that other lakeside suburbs don’t have bans that specifically mention women being topless — and neither should Evanston.

“This is a regulation that regulates women’s bodies in a way that we don’t regulate men’s bodies,” Reid said. “For me, this double standard in our prescription needs to be eliminated.”

At a meeting in August, council members asked Reid to do more outreach and get back from the community on the issue.

Reid’s proposal is tabled for the Sept. 6 meeting of the Evanston City Council Social Services Committee, of which Reid is a member.


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