This New England Island Just Legalized Topless Beaches

The Gender Equality on Beaches bylaw was recently approved by the Attorney General.

Brant Point Lighthouse and beachon Nantucket Island, Massachusetts

Paolo Picciotto/REDA&CO/Getty Images

It's official — everyone is free to go topless on Nantucket's beaches.

In a move that has been in the works since May when residents voted in favor of the Gender Equality on Beaches bylaw amendment, or Article 71, at their annual town meeting, the amendment was drafted "to promote equality for all persons, any person shall be allowed to go topless on any public or private beach within the Town of Nantucket."

However, the Office of Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey made the amendment official last week.

"We emphasize that our approval in no way implies any agreement or disagreement with any policy views that may have led to the passage of the by-law," the Attorney General's office explained in a letter to the Nantucket Town Clerk. The Attorney General's limited standard of review requires her to approve or disapprove by-laws based solely on their consistency with state law, not on any policy views she may have on the subject matter or wisdom of the by-law."

The Attorney General's office also determined the Nantucket bylaw did not conflict with two Massachusetts state laws "that can under certain circumstances involve the exposure of breasts." 

Last week Massachusetts State Representative Dylan Fernandes, who represents Nantucket in the state legislature, tweeted his support for the amendment. 

"Nantucket beaches have been officially approved to allow both men AND women to go topless – a win for gender equity (& tan lines)."

The Gender Equality on Beaches bylaw amendment is the first of its kind in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. It's currently unclear how the ruling could play out on the island's numerous public and private beaches after the arrival of summer.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles