The tiny vacation island of Nantucket, Massachusetts has become the first city in the state to approve topless beaches.
Seven months after voters approved a bylaw amendment which would allow all people, including women, to go topless while on the island’s beaches, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey made it official – a required step before the so-called “Gender Equity on Beaches” amendment could become law, Cape Cod Times reports.
On other nearby beaches, such as Cape Cod and the Islands region, nude sunbathing is informally accepted. There are also beaches where nude sunbathing is specifically prohibited – or that it is allowed beyond the first 1,500 feet of the beach entrance, such as with Lucy Vincent Beach on Martha’s Vineyard.
In a six-page determination issued on Tuesday, Healey noted, “the town has the authority to choose what activities it will allow on town beaches, and we must approve any bylaw reflecting such choice unless the bylaw poses a clear conflict with the Constitution or laws of the Commonwealth.”
The new rule was adopted in May at a Nantucket town hall in a vote for “Gender Equity on Beaches,” and passed by an 85-vote margin, with 327 voting in favor, and 242 voting against. The amendment was proposed by seventh-generation Nantucket resident Dorothy Stover, who believes anyone should be able to go topless on beaches.
“I am so excited and relieved,” Stover said Wednesday. “For months I have had community members reaching out in regards to the AG making her decision, and now we finally have our answer that top freedom for all on island beaches has fully passed and is officially a Nantucket bylaw.”
Stover told the Cape Cod Times in February that the previous summer she had wanted to go topless on the beach, and thought ‘Why can’t I do that?’
She said the general acceptance of men and boys going bare-chested, while women’s toplessness has been seen as unacceptable, is “really antiquated” and is inequality.
Instead of just shrugging this question off, Stover developed her proposal to change the Nantucket bylaws specifically to state that anyone could go topless on island beaches. She successfully got her amendment on the town meeting agenda through a citizens’ petition.
“I worked on the bylaw for about three months. My sister, AdaRuth Waig, helped me do the law research,” she said Wednesday.
And now, Stover can toss her top and enjoy the beach!