Nantucket To Decide If Women Can Go Topless At Beaches Next Year

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Should women be able to go topless at beaches in Nantucket?

The island’s voters will decide that at its annual town meeting next year. It’s one of 31 proposals island residents are set to consider at the meeting. The deadline to submit proposals was November 15; each required 10 signatures from Nantucket voters to advance.

Dorothy Stover, a resident of Nantucket, filed the proposal. Her warrant article, titled “Equality For All Genders On Island Beaches,” would add the following to the town bylaws:

“In order to promote equality for all persons, any person shall be allowed to be topless on any public or private beach within the town of Nantucket.”

Stover posted a statement about the proposal on her personal Facebook page:


I did it! I submitted my first article for Nantucket Town Meeting. What’s the article you ask? Nipple equality!

Currently men are allow to be topless on Nantucket beaches but women are not. Yet, we have the same nipples.

The article I am putting forward for Nantucket residents to vote are will make all beaches on Nantucket Island topless, seeking equality for all genders.

As a Sex Educator, I will be sharing between now and May of 2022 why this new bylaw is needed and important for our little island.

I appreciate the support from people over the past month as well as push back from people. Thank you for the enthusiasm and the feedback.

A big thank you to my sister @atwaig and Nantucket town council for helping me with the bylaw language. Couldn’t have done this without you.

This is an exciting moment for me. I feel my momma is so proud of me ♥️ @catherineflanaganstover

I have a question for you dear human reader, how do you feel about nipple equality? Are you for or against it?


She spoke with NewBostonPost about the initiative on Thursday afternoon, as well.

Stover reiterated that she sees the initiative as an opportunity to improve gender equality on the island.

“There’s definitely other places that are doing this initiative,” Stover said. “The ‘Free The Nipple’ campaign has been around for a long time. This is about beaches and the equality on the beaches. At first, I was thinking about equality in public spaces because there’s still inequality in these areas. But to start, we’re going with the beaches. It’s a natural place for it where people don’t have their tops on.”

While she doesn’t know whether the warrant article will pass, Stover is happy with the support she has received thus far.

“I’ve been surprised by how much support I’ve had because one never knows and this is a controversial topic,” she said. “I’ve definitely gotten some pushback, but the majority of people — all ages, all genders — have been supportive. I have women messaging me thanking me for being this forward.

“One never knows when it comes to town meeting,” she added. “You can have great support up until and it can fall flat at town meeting. All I can do is move this forward and educate people. And then the town takes it from there, whether they like it or not.”

It’s legal for women to go topless in many parts of the country, but those places aren’t in Massachusetts. Cities where it’s legal for women to be topless in public include: New York City; Keene, New Hampshire; New Orleans, Louisiana (for Mardi Gras only); and Austin, Texas among many others, according to

Other than the gender equality aspect, Stover said she thinks it would help the island’s tourism industry.

“I do think it will help with tourism not only with the people who want to be topless, but also with people who want to go to a place where they will be accepted,” she said. “There are many different people in the world who are being left out of the conversation. In particular intersex. We talk about male and female, but the conversation never goes to intersex. I think it will continue the Nantucket tradition of change. Nantucket has a history of equality and fighting for equality, and I think people will be drawn to that.”

Stover said she teaches sex workshops to adults at her business on the island, called The Love School

If voters approve the warrant article, then it would go to Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey’s office for review. That’s because current Massachusetts law generally makes it illegal for women to be topless in public.

Exposure of female breasts in certain circumstances constitutes Open and Gross Lewdness and Lascivious Behavior in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, according to Chapter 272 Section 16 of the state’s general law; it carries a prison sentence of up to three years.

The 2022 Nantucket town meeting is scheduled for May 2, 2022, at the Nantucket High School’s Mary P. Walker Auditorium, according to the town’s web site.


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