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Town Meeting proposal would allow anyone to go topless on Nantucket beaches

Jetties Beach on Nantucket pictured in August 2020.Stan Grossfeld/ Globe Staff

Nantucket’s annual Town Meeting in May will include a vote on a proposal to allow anyone to go topless on the island’s beaches, which attract throngs of well-heeled vacationers every summer.

The warrant article, sponsored by Nantucket resident Dorothy Stover, is titled “Equality For All Genders On All Island Beaches,” according to town records.

The article calls for allowing “any person” to go topless on any public or private beach on the island — long a beloved summer spot for the rich, the famous, and Democratic presidents — to “promote equality for all persons.”

Stover said via e-mail that she began thinking about the issue over the summer.

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“I was on the beach this past summer and had the desire to not have my top on while sunning myself,” Stover wrote. “I was disappointed because I knew I couldn’t. I thought, ‘Wait a second, why am I not allowed to be topless and men are?’ We have the same parts. Men have nipples and mammary glands. That’s when my thought process turned to the current inequality and antiquated law.”

She wrote in the article that the entire community would benefit from the rule change.

“Equality for all genders regardless of sex at birth allows for current and future generatio [sic] of honoring our island traditions of equality and freedom of choice,” the proposal reads. “Also, this is taking away a regulation that police will not have to spend time on,” freeing up tax dollars for “other uses for keeping the peace.”

The article is one of dozens up for a vote at next year’s annual Town Meeting, slated for 5 p.m. on May 2, 2022, at Nantucket High School’s Mary P. Walker Auditorium. The proposal was earlier reported by the Boston Herald.

Select Board chairman Jason M. Bridges said via e-mail that he backs Stover’s proposal.

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“I understand where Dorothy is coming from and support her driving the conversation,” Bridges said. “Change comes slow here on Nantucket, so I think adding certain beaches on the South Shore would be a great start.”

Town Manager C. Elizabeth Gibson said the town hasn’t taken an official stance on the article.

“[A]s the manager of the town, I neither support nor oppose a citizen’s initiative such as this; however, as of yet, I have not had a chance to fully explore the implications with Town Counsel,” Gibson said via e-mail.

Warrant articles require the signatures of at least 10 registered voters in town to make it onto the annual Town Meeting docket, records show.

The town notes, however, that “if your article would require changes to existing structure or additional funds or resources, it is possible that the idea may not be endorsed by Town Administration.”

Stover addressed the cost issue in her warrant article.

“Immediate cost would be in amending online and written resources relative to bylaws and advising officers of the bylaw changes,” the article reads.



Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.