Evanston’s Equity and Empowerment Commission, voted Thursday night to back repeal of a city ban on women going topless in public.
Ald. Devon Reid (8th) has complained for months that some gender-non-binary residents might be unclear about whether they have the female breasts that are required under the ordinance to be covered in public.
At last week’s Human Services Committee meeting, he requested that the issue be referred to the equity panel, which he’s a member of.
At the suggestion of member Jane Grover, the commission Thursday voted to recommend that City Council rewrite the ordinance completely — adopting state statutory language instead.
The state statute on public indecency — which only applies to persons ages 17 and above — does not address simple nudity, but instead bars in a public place “a lewd exposure of the body done with the intent to arouse or to satisfy the sexual desire of the person.”
That presumably leaves it for a police officer to decide before making an arrest whether the bodily display is lewd and done for sexual satisfaction.
Commission Chair Karla Thomas argued the existing code is “setting queer folk up for unwanted interaction with police and requiring people to prove their gender.”
Thomas also claimed that Evanston Township High School “had addressed this in a parallel way by removing their dress code.”
In fact, ETHS has a three-page dress code. It requires that “certain body parts must be covered for all students at all times” and specifies that “Clothes must be worn in a way such that genitals, buttocks, breasts, and nipples are fully covered with opaque fabric.”
However, the code further states that “Student athletic apparel will be defined by safety and competitive performance standards.”